International volunteering for 18-25 year olds

Balloon ICS

Balloon Ventures is an award winning social enterprise working with entrepreneurs in the developing world and funding businesses that create jobs and change lives.

Balloon Kenya Animation

Destination countries

With Balloon ICS, you could go to:

  • Kenya
  • Uganda

Our Programme

Balloon ICS projects focus on supporting young people in East Africa to start and grow their businesses to sustain their own livelihoods and create jobs for others. We train teams of volunteers who then get stuck in with budding entrepreneurs in East Africa to imagine, test and grow exciting businesses that challenge the status. Over the last 12 months we have invested more than £50,000 in 170 businesses ranging from coffee carts to hair salons, and with your help we will continue to grow this number at an ever-increasing rate.

Meet Gideon – one of our entrepreneurs whose fruit business we invested in after he was supported by Balloon volunteers.

How does supporting businesses lead to sustainable development?

“In the summer of 2010 I visited Kenya to interview members of the different communities that fought in the 2007-08 post-election violence. What struck me most was the impact of poverty and unemployment. Only the poor fighting. Some were paid to fight. Most were fighting for a better and more prosperous life for themselves and their families."

"As Betty Odour, the manager of an orphanage with 115 young children said, 'I really don't know what our children are going to do when they finish school. They will have to find work but there are no jobs here. I fear some could end up back on the streets …'" - Josh Bicknell, CEO Balloon Ventures

You can read the rest of the Guardian article here.

How can you help?

We are not looking exclusively for business graduates or even people with experience of working in a business. We prefer teams of diverse young people with different skills, ideas and experience to create an environment for innovation and partnership. Whether you’re a hairdresser, a fine art grads, or a budding entrepreneur, as long as you are motivated to learn, work hard to generate and test ideas and committed to building strong relationships on a basis of mutual respect and understanding, then we are confident that with our training and support you can deliver great results

To get an idea of what we train you to deliver, check out an example of great work our volunteers have produced in the past. Oh and don’t be intimidated, the people who supported this document’s development were probably not dissimilar to you!

How Balloon ICS works

Balloon ICS is based on our proven approach.

The enthusiasm and creativity that you as young people bring is pivotal to its success. We want volunteers who will innovate and inspire entrepreneurs to think differently in what are often risk-averse environments, where the market is flooded with copy-cat businesses; each making just enough profit to get by.

Our programme not only provides the entrepreneurs with knowledge, skills and ideas to imagine new business ideas, we also have an investment fund that you will help your entrepreneurs pitch for, and 50% will be funded to implement their ideas – all during your 12 weeks in country. Read about how Shammi helped one entrepreneur significantly increase his income – despite the odds.

This is a unique opportunity to experience the entire business journey in a challenging and exciting setting – defeating poverty through business.

How does it feel to live and work in East Africa?

It’s an almost impossible question to answer, but you can read about the experiences of those who have gone before you in our blog. Chelley contributed her reflections from her ICS placement in Kericho, 2014.

"Balloon provides a golden opportunity to learn by living in a different community and understand the causes and remedies of poverty first-hand. It is a chance to share views about global issues and gain experience needed for the competitive world at large..." - Mutai Kipkoech, Balloon ICS volunteer 2014

To understand more about what a Balloon ICS programme looks like week by week, take a look at our website –

Find out about more ICS overseas volunteering placements in Afica, Asia, Central and South America.