When your group cannot pitch for funding…

As we are closing in on the presentation date, us Balloon Fellows are having to spend more time with our groups to ensure they are ready for their funding presentation. With many of our groups this is paying off and the majority are out doing interviews and research as we speak. However, today I realised that one of my groups is unable to apply for funding. Whilst I still have two other groups who are eligible at the moment, I am slightly disappointed. I was so enthusiastic about this group and their abilities to make a business that would help others.

The group is called Networking Youth with Disability. They are a keen and welcoming bunch and have always worked hard with whatever tasks we have set them. They have had near flawless attendance and have always done their best to grasp even the most difficult concepts within the curriculum. Their problem is that they aren’t entirely sure what business they would like to do.

Every group finds their business solution at different times and often is different ways. Our Networking Youth with Disability group were one of the first to come up with a solution – designing and selling clothes and shoes with disabled people in mind. This was a major problem that the group had picked out in the early weeks and a problem that many group members were facing. But two sessions later, the group decided to leave this idea and instead focus on starting a paraffin pump and a food kiosk.

Having already lost time working on our first failed business idea, we put more effort and time into the new ideas, with Suraj and myself helping the team innovate to ensure their businesses would be more successful than the competition. A week later, the group changed their minds again, and a third time, when we realised their new idea was not viable.

This is not to say that I blame them. At Balloon Kenya we encourage all of the youth groups from the beginning to only set up businesses they are really passionate about. Therefore, this group changing their minds purely meant that they were putting what we taught them into practice, trying to find a business solution they are more passionate about. It just means that, six days until presentation date, we now have no time to do all of the necessary research and prototyping required for the group’s presentation, meaning they will have to wait until the next programme to apply for funding.

Whilst Suraj and I are pretty disappointed, the group will be picked up next time and will hopefully gain funding then, so all is not lost. Furthermore, we have other groups that will pitch for funding on Saturday that we have high hopes for, which is exciting! But it’s a shame because I really thought this group would be able to start a business this time around.