The Start of the Summer

Officially a free man. Six weeks of watching the glorious weather from the confines of the air conditioned library are over, as is my exam beard/stubble.

First exam result came through as a 2:1, which I am happy about seen as I only completed 75% of the paper. My Excel grade calculator which I produced during procrastination in my exam period signals that I should get a strong 2:1, pushing towards a 1:1 in Business Studies.

I spent the evening with Paolo Nutini late last month in Manchester, with my housemate, Ed and I thoroughly enjoying it! The handful of groupies stood by the stage door looked more appealing than the queue out of the car park, so we joined them and met the man himself, who is set to take the festival scene by storm this summer.

 

Paolo’s opening song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1C2XmfcNY0

I returned to Leicester on the Monday, prior to my Finance exam on the Thursday to watch 4/5th’s of One Direction take on a team including Robert Pires, Robbie Savage and Michael Vaughn, captained by Piers Morgan. Styles grabbed a 90th minute equaliser from the penalty spot (surprisingly!) taking the game to penalties, with Morgans team being victorious.

Niall Horan leads Phil Neville, David James and team to the pitch.
Niall Horan leads Phil Neville, David James, Liam Payne, Ronan Keating and team to the pitch.
Tomlinson, Bishop and Corden warming up.
Tomlinson, Bishop and Corden warming up.

Feel my Finance exam went well on the Thursday, picking questions on Weighted Average Cost of Capital and Leasing vs Buying assets.

On the Friday I enjoyed a dry day at Alton Towers which had remarkably small queues considering it was half term!

10 days ago I visited the home of Batman, Wayne Manor (Wollaton Park) to attend No Tomorrow Festival. The festival attracted the likes of Duke Dumont, Indiana, Jess Glynne (Vocals for Clean Bandits – Rather Be), Sam Smith, London Grammar and Clean Bandit. The weather started in a traditional festival style (puddle jumping, glorious weather for ducks), but the sun was shining by the mid-afternoon!

 

I spent Saturday at Leicester Races which was great fun and managed to come away with £17.35 in winnings, beginners luck! However I managed to miss this guy:

I’ve picked up some bar work recently to fund my kitty for interview expenses. I’ve been meeting with some exciting companies in both the Midlands and in London, of which I am waiting to hear back from!

 

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: From Google to Pitch Side

During my placement with Bosch my manager commended me for having a great skill at building relationships with people, this is a story of a relationship that will surpass my time in Kenya.

My journey with Nakuru Allstars started with a Google search a ‘Nakuru Football Club’ which resulted in Nakuru Allstars’ appearing at the top of the search. Upon clicking the link I found that their shirt was luminous orange and decided that I had to try and get my hands on one whilst in Nakuru. I tweeted the team and got a reply from their Owner and CEO Robert Muthomi saying that he’d be able to sort me one.

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Finding a football pitch in Nakuru is difficult, as they are not readily available unlike in the UK. Ten football hungry Balloon Kenya males were desperate for a kick around and when we were invited to play the Allstars C team we jumped at the chance. We fielded seven Fellows on Wednesday evening, stealing three Allstars Defenders and a Goalkeeper. The sixty minute game ended 2-2 with Nick from Balloon Kenya grabbing our first goal and a young Kenyan securing the second. See Luke Mallards blog for a full account http://startup-kenya.blogspot.com/2013/08/balloon-kenya-allstars.html.

A tweet from Robert following the game on Wednesday asked what I was doing on Saturday. As the conversation continued he asked if a friend and I would like to travel to Kericho, sixty miles west of Nakuru to see the Allstars take on Zoo FC. An intense game of rock, paper, scissors saw Chris beat Luke for the second place on the team bus.

Chris and I managed to rearrange our Saturday meetings and the seven o’clock start was a struggle but Chris and I managed to grab a light breakfast before being warmly welcomed by the team at their ground. Eight o’clock Kenyan time (08:30 in reality) saw the bus pull off from Nakuru, beginning our journey to tea grow capital Kericho. A brief motivational talk instilled the importance of the day, as leaders West Sugar had faced a two points reduction as they bought and fielded a player before the transfer window had opened. The two point reduction meant that a draw would see Nakuru Allstars top the Kenyan Second Division.

After a two and a half hour bus journey through the luscious green tea growing countryside we arrived in Kericho. The player dispersed, heading in different directions for their pre-match meal and Chris and I joined the Allstars CEO for Chapattis and Chicken Stew in a restaurant.

We arrived at Kericho Green Stadium at one o’clock, an hour prior to the kick-off. Kericho suffers heavy rainfall and as a result large patches of mud have formed and theses patches have been covered in gravel to prevent a mid match mud bath. Chris and I joined the teams Bus Driver for a brief kick around with local children whilst the players warmed up.

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The Fourth Official forced Chris and I to leave the bench, however I remained wearing a red bib to avoid being mistaken for a player of the away team. Zoo FC took an early lead, but Nakuru didn’t let their heads drop and managed to grab an equaliser a minute before half time. Nakuru started strong in the second half and were pushing for a second goal. The weather took a turn for the worst as heavy rain spoiled the second half, which meant the football struggled on the heavy pitch.

A live chicken being dangled by its legs and waved at my window on the bus concluded another great day out in Kenya. Now back to Nakuru for a week of testing ideas with my entrepreneurs.

Thanks to the Allstars team for looking after us, especially Robert, Sky and Charlie who looked after the only Mzungu’s in the crowd well!

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: Ten Sugars or Twelve – Rural Adventure

Tea served in the early morning sun in Lalwet, a small rural community on the banks of Lake Nakuru must have been the sweetest thing I’ve ever tasted. The drink is so sugary that the area would be a dentist’s paradise. Kenyan ‘chai’ is renowned for being sweet, however.

Our trip to our rural retreat started early on Monday morning with a bumpy Mutatu (a small minibus), a journey that half of the group had to complete by motorbike as the driver refused to drive on the roads. We arrived to crowds of children swamping our exit from the bus. Our football was snatched, booted into the air and chased by around twenty children. They were excited by the ball as their normal ball was plastic bags squished together, held by a number of elastic bands. The large smiles made up for the snatching!

Our welcomes to the village were accompanied by the very sweet tea and Ndazi’s (Doughnuts without jam)! The welcome was a lengthy procedure as we were introduced to about half of the village. Although it was time consuming we felt warmly welcomed into their community and everyday life.

The second stop was to a mud hut that was undergoing an extension. The extension consisted of a wooden frame, which needed filling. Earth had been disturbed near to the extension and water was added to allow the fellows to get their hands dirty and help to construct the muddy walls. It was enjoyed by all and many of the girls would have paid a couple of hundred pounds in a fancy spa for a similar treatment.

After walking around further and freeing a Goat from a fence (our Welsh fellow sorted this) we entered a field full of kidney beans drying on plastic tarpaulin, we were handed sticks and told to beat the pods. When the pods are beaten the beans fall onto the plastic and can be easily collected, this is a job the women of the family carry out.

Lunch followed our morning of hard work and one of the ladies of the village ‘Muma’ had prepared lunch for the thirty hungry fellows. A typical Kenyan meal of beans, rice and potatoes and was enjoyed by all, fuelling us for the rest of the day.

Following lunch we took to a slightly overgrown field, littered with cow pat for a game of football which was labelled ‘Mzungus vs Lalwat’ – Mzungus being the Swahili term for white people or aimless wanderer. Many of the village turned up for the game that had a cup final feel about it. Away from the football the local children pestered the female fellows for sweets.

The football finished around half past five and we were then paired and walked to our host families house. I had been paired with Chris who I share a room with in Nakuru, along with Thach and Hymn. We were heavily welcomed by our family and our first activity was to milk the cow before dinner. The milking was good fun and something that none of us had done before. We later helped prepare Ugali (a mix of water and maize) and then sat down for a meal of beef stew that they normally only make at Christmas, so we were very honoured.

After lunch we sat in the living room and watched English dubbed Italian soaps and amazed the families children with our cameras. Kenyan children love digital cameras as they can see themselves on the screen after. A newly constructed room had been given to Chris and I, in which we shared a double bed and made a short video blog about the day’s activities.

We awoke to farm sounds of cows and chickens in the yard outside our window, unfortunately the cow had already been milked by the time we woke up. Breakfast was served with a less sweeter tea, similar to traditional English tea and Ndazi’s. Local rap artist Freddie met us to escort us back to the village centre to rejoin the other Fellows.

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After joining the Fellows we left the village for a hike up a nearby hill which provided great views of the neighbouring Lake Nakuru. After our decent we headed for lunch, which was the same as the Monday, but at a different household. Following the lunch we reintroduced ourselves to the village before saying our goodbyes and being given the invitation of being able to visit in the future and then shared a prayer before departing.

The community of Lalwat is united as one with a high level of trust between everybody in the community. Although some of the families may not have much they were willing to share what they did have with us, which was really nice to see.

The trip provided an insight into Kenya away from the hustle and bustle of Nakuru town and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: The Final Countdown

Not a rendition of Europe’s hit from 1986, don’t worry!

3 more sleeps – makes me sound like an excited child counting down for Christmas! 4 if you include Thursday, but with a flight from Heathrow at 06:50 I doubt I’ll get much sleep.

I’ll be taking the 06:50 from Heathrow to Brussels and then taking a flight south to Africa, stopping briefly in Kigali, Rwanda before hoping over Lake Victoria and into Nairobi. There will be nine ‘fellows’ from my project on my flight, so its nice to know that the 14 hour journey will not be taken alone. Our Facebook conversations have been exuberating excitement and it seems as if they are going to be a great bunch to work with.

My playlist for my flight is under construction, with Tinie Tempah’s Trampoline being added yesterday  – I’m sure this will be a huge summer anthem. If anyone has any further suggestions drop me a message! Maybe something that’ll get me into a Kenyan vibe.

I was fortunate to be sponsored by my local Rotary Club (1070 Soar Valley) who have set up their own page for their Rotarians to follow my progress: http://www.rotary-ribi.org/clubs/page.php?PgID=387283&ClubID=448. Their current President Graham has been a great help with not only the funding but offering words of advice to working with different cultures. Over the past few weeks we have been trying to make contact with the Rotary Club in Nakuru and last week we made a link and I have been invited to look at their projects in the community.

As a proud Carlisle United supporter I was interested in looking at the Kenyan football system. After a few tweets (@djgarlick) I have made contact with the CEO of Nakuru Allstars, who play in the second tier of Kenyan football. I have been invited to watch their lads train and watch them play in the league, with a promise of one of their shirts. I’m excited to meet with them and discuss their squad development and their plans for the future.

Nakuru Allstars

 

Hopefully I shall be able to catch one of the Directors of Rockstar Youth this week, as we keep missing each others calls. Rockstar are the largest mentoring and funding organisation for young entrepreneurs in the UK and I know that their Director has worked in Africa. It’ll be good to talk to him about Balloon Kenya and also the plans for Sheffield Business School’s Enterprise Society, which I’ll be on the committee for next year.

Finally an e-mail from the Head of Business at University wants me to share the experience with the Business School and to the new students starting in September ‘to show what you can do when you put your mind to it!’.

My next post will probably be from a few thousand miles away.

Strap in! I’m sure it’ll be a bumpy journey from Nairobi to Nakuru!