BLOG – Hello Sheffield!

First of all apologies for the silence! I made it home from Kenya safely, but I’ve had a whirlwind two weeks.

It was surreal during my last weekend in Kenya having visited West Gate Mall just two weeks before the attack. The siege was plastered all over the Kenyan media, just as it was when I returned to the UK. I passed through Nairobi, within half a mile of the shopping centre on the second day of the siege on my way to the airport. We just sailed through as if nothing had happened, as it was dark and the dark smoke filled clouds could not be seen.

Six weeks prior to my departure from Nairobi the airport had suffered a fire – two days before my arrival. You may remember my blog about a long coach journey through Uganda and eventually onto Kenya. The structure of the terminal is still intact, however you can see the charred flame licked edges still. After passing through strict security checks we were allowed through to the ‘Departure Tents’, which were huge marquees with a flat screen television and Wi-Fi. Our flight for Zurich left on time and after being frisked at 06:30 I made my connection to London.

London was cold and overcast on arrival. I was concious of my body odour on the bus journey to Leicester and can only apologise to the lady who I shared a good chat with on the coach.

I spent two full days in Leicester seeing family and catching up with friends before returning north to Sheffield on Thursday. I managed to produce an article for the Leicester Mercury and I shall be working with the newspapers Business Editor to smooth it off this week. I was whisked straight into a presentation on the Thursday afternoon, presenting to over 50 Enterprise students about the Enterprise Society which I shall be looking after the finances for. A presentation to second year Business Studies followed, presenting to 100 students about my placement journey, with the focus of the talk being around resilience and not giving up. Both of the presentations were well received and I felt confident presenting, despite the big audience. I feel my placement where I regularly presented KPI’s to Directors and teaching in Kenya will of helped with this.

On Friday I sat in two Welcome Back presentations with the aim of gearing us up for our final year at the University, before returning back to Leicester for the weekend to collect the remainder of my things.

Monday started early with one of my electives – Contemporary Issues in International Business which looks at business in emerging markets. I rushed home to have a skype chat with my Career Advisor Aimee (check out http://www.careercake.com) which was good and we spoke about going for graduate opportunities. I then went for tea with Hallam Union’s Student Development Manager, Vanessa and we discussed about my trip and how I can help other students gain a similar experience. I was fortunate to be sponsored by the Union and due to my success they want to sponsor two students to go on the 2014 Balloon Kenya trip.

Tuesday saw me meet with one of the Universities Press Team to discuss a piece for the University and local press in regards to Kenya, which will go live tomorrow (Monday 7th), so look out for that! The afternoon was spent rummaging through BAE’s Annual Report before the first meeting of the Enterprise Society Committee – which is looking really exciting!

I worked for The Economist on Wednesday morning at Sheffield University, we managed to sign up over 120 people to the magazine between a team of 5, which wasn’t bad going!

Meeting about the launch of the Enterprise Society Launch at lunch on Thursday went well. We shall be launching the society next Wednesday with food and a number of local entrepreneurs, who will be giving presentations.

Friday was another busy one. Two hours of lectures followed by a short meeting with the Head of the Placement Team, who has asked me to be a volunteer at the Universities Placement Employers Fair, which I have agreed to do. It will involve helping to introduce second years to potential employers. I then proceeded to a meeting with the Head of Business and Enterprise Management to discuss the Enterprise Society. An hour lecture about the Agency Problem in finance followed before I gave a presentation to 150 students about my placement (the presentations being re-cycled well!). I then met with my Placement Tutor to discuss my essay and opportunities in my final year.

So BUSY, BUSY, BUSY. I have managed to fit in a little bit of partying also, after all it has been Freshers!

I’ve been invited to speak at the opening of the Employability Hub and shall be speaking in their Global Graduates afternoon on Tuesday between 13:00-15:00. I shall also be dressing up as one of the 118 men, joining the Athletics team on their social, as my house mate is the Chairman.

I’m still providing advice to my Kenyans via WhatsApp, which I am happy to do. It’s also nice to wake up to them messaging me saying morning 🙂

Oh I also made contact with a former ‘Dragon’ who said they’d be interested in speaking at our Enterprise Week!

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: 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!