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Balloon Ventures ICS

Our programme

Balloon ICS is a unique opportunity to use the latest in start-up enterprise thinking to help grow and develop micro businesses in Africa.

Our volunteers work with the latest generation of young African entrepreneurs, helping them turn their business ideas into business reality.

Balloon ICS teams are taught our ground-breaking enterprise curriculum before getting stuck in, working with real businesses to imagine, test and develop ideas that challenge the status quo.

In the past 12 months we have invested more than £60,000 in 262 businesses ranging from coffee carts to hair salons; from organic energy drinks to innovative advertising businesses. With your help we will continue to grow even faster.

We’re an award-winning social enterprise working with inspirational and high-growth entrepreneurs in the exciting and important informal sector.

Madame Harriet in her stationery shop
Madame Harriet (pictured on the right) dreamt of having her own stationery shop one day. With the support of ICS volunteers, Madame Harriet developed her business plan and attracted more visitors to her shop.

Destination countries

With Balloon ICS, you could go to:

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 were 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 told me, '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

Read the rest of the Guardian article

How can you help?

We aren’t only looking for business graduates, or people with experience of working in a business. In our experience, diverse teams have the greatest impact, so we’re looking for young people with different skills, ideas and experiences to create an environment where innovation can flourish.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a hairdresser, a fine art grad, or a budding entrepreneur looking to set up your own startup – you have a valuable contribution to make with Balloon ICS.

We’re looking for people who are motivated, keen to learn, and committed to building strong relationships forged from mutual respect and understanding. Our training will help develop your skills and give you the confidence to apply them in a business setting.

Sarah with Balloon Ventures volunteer
Sarah Wanjiku, an entrepreneur in Njoro Town with ICS/Balloon Ventures volunteers as they conduct regular sessions at the local market in Nakuru County-Kenya

How Balloon ICS works

Balloon ICS is based on our proven approach.

It’s the end result of five years of learning and development from working with entrepreneurs and volunteers in Africa.

The enthusiasm and creativity that you’re able to bring to the programme is vital to its success. We’re looking for volunteers who will inspire entrepreneurs to think differently and innovate in an environment where risk-taking is frowned upon and copy-cat businesses make just enough profit to get by.

Balloon provides a golden opportunity to learn by living in a different community and understanding 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.
Mutai Kipkoech
ICV, Nakuru, Kenya, 2014
Mutai Kipochech

Our programme not only provides entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills and ideas to imagine new businesses, but we also run an investment fund which makes sure we can support those entrepreneurs who are ready to take their business to the next level.

You’ll have the chance to help your entrepreneurs prepare for a competitive pitch for this funding, and 50% will receive the funds required to implement their ideas. And that's all during your 12 weeks in country.

Read how Shammi helped one entrepreneur significantly increase his income – despite the odds

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

It’s an almost impossible question to answer, but you can read about the experiences of those who have gone before you on our blog.

Read Chelley's reflections from her ICS placement in Kericho

Are you ready to apply?