Financial vs. Emotional Support

The first day of teaching four weeks ago filled me with nerves but being met by a sea of smiling faces from my first group – Baharini Youth – immediately put me at ease. Since the first session this group seem to have been one step ahead and I was very excited when a couple of ideas they tested made money (one a profit of just over 1000Ksh!). Since then, the group have shown curiosity about the loan, wondering if it was a long term relationship with Balloon Kenya or just a one off payment.

Even though I enjoy working with this group so much, I have often wondered why they need help setting up their businesses. They seem so in tune with the ethos of the curriculum and are already making a small sum with an idea that has the potential to expand, so why do they need funding? This begs the bigger question – how important really is the financial support the programme offers?

Firstly, I believe that the prospect of receiving funding is very important because it not only sets a goal for the groups, but also motivates them to succeed as another party (Balloon Kenya) is demonstrating confidence in their idea by investing. Maybe without this focus and goal of funding the efforts that groups put into this programme might seem less important.

However, the focus of the programme is not solely the funding but also the emotional support that mentors offer their groups. All the groups I support are always proud to present their findings from outside of the sessions showing how important the mentors of each group are for the motivation of their groups. The programme also seems to have helped to give each person in the groups a sense of belonging as well as letting them explore their own ideas in a supportive and accepting setting.

Thus, although funding is important, there is more to the programme than just giving money to the groups, as the emotional support that goes hand in hand with it is just as valuable.