Introducing the Fellows

Back in Nakuru with the first set of 2013 Fellows! They are all excited and keen to get their hands stuck in. Here is what they said about one another!


Shivani on Apolinar… 

Apolinar Toba is 21 years old and was born and raised in Mexico. He is studying for his undergraduate degree at Tec de Monterrey in Mexico. Over the last year, he has been studying Chemical Engineering on an exchange programme at UCL. However, throughout his course he has found that his interests lie in the field of business – something that has inspired him to join Balloon Kenya. In Mexico, Apolinar’s hobbies include boxing as well as hunting deer with his father. He is also passionate about heavy metal and classic American rock.

Vivian on Cat…

Cat graduated from Aston University in International Business and Management, and spent her 3rd year in Madrid teaching English. Her dream is to have her own business in marketing, as she’s interested in how advertisement plays a role in business. She also has a passion for learning new languages, and is excited to be in a unique program like Balloon Kenya that combines business with learning about a new culture. She hopes to learn more about setting up a business from scratch. Cat does kickboxing, speaks Mandarin and can touch the tip of her nose with her tongue!

Cat on Vivian…

Vivian is from Hong Kong and has a masters in Ecology and Biodiversity, and specialized in sharks. She has worked in Germany and Washington D.C. For the United Nations and the International Union for Conservation of Nature respectively. She is excited to be a Balloon Kenya fellow because she believes that the issues surrounding environment and community development are closely linked. She is keen to learn more about social innovation and entrepreneurship to make a positive change in society regardless of the size. Vivian has flown a plane, gone skydiving and loves dangerous animals!

David on Izzy…..

A native East African, Izzy currently resides in the UK and studies Social and Community Development at Northampton University. Extremely passionate in creating a positive impact on the world, she works part-time as a support worker in the UK and hopes to contribute back to her home country through the Balloon Kenya programme. As more and more young Kenyans are realizing the power within their hands, she believes now is the prime time to empower them to start their own businesses and live sustainably. In her leisure time, Izzy enjoys power walking and she cooks amazing traditional African cuisine.

Sarina on Alessandro….

Half Italian and half American, Alessandro has grown up in the UK but spent time living in Italy for four years as a child.

Having just graduated from UCL with a degree in Italian and Spanish, he is now pursuing a career in Management Consultancy. In his spare time Alessandro loves to cook and travel. One of his most memorable experiences is working as a kids counsellor in Wyoming on a ranch where he relished the American outdoor adventure.

Manavi on Nirmal……

Nirmal is a first year student pursuing his BSc in Accounting Management at Aston University. In his spare time he plays a number of sports such as: Hockey, table tennis. He also watches ‘loads’ of TV and LOVES PLAYING FIFA!

Nirmal has been brought up in Nakuru and is passionate about making a positive impact on the local community and making a difference in their lives.

In my opinion, he is a genuinely nice person and I look forward to working with him during the rest of the programme!


Aisling on Nichola…..

Nichola McAvoy is a second year undergraduate student at the University of Portsmouth, she is studying towards a degree in International Development. She juggles her time between her studies, part-time job and working on fledgling social enterprise projects in Sierra Leone and India. She’s pro-active and self-aware, and recently took up playing tennis. When she graduates, she’d like to move to London but above all, be happy and successful.

Izzy on David….

David was born and raised in Malaysia and spent 6 years away from home in Singapore.  Currently, he is studying Statistics at UCL, and is the Vice President of talent management for the AIESEC society.  He is very passionate about empowering youth and interested in entrepreneurship because he realises the freedom and empowering qualities it offers people, which is why he signed up for Balloon Kenya. David is an independent person who hopes to see young Kenyans take charge of their lives and break away from poverty.  We share the same passion in life; he loves cooking because it makes him feel more creative.

Paddy on Prabs…..

Prabhay Joshi, also a member of the Giraffe Appreciation Society, is an Economics graduate from UCL and has also worked in the banking industry for two and a half years. He is keen to use what he learns on the Balloon Kenya programme to understand the dynamics of social enterprise and entrepreneurship, and one day he aims to run his own successful venture.

Interesting Fact: According to the man himself, he is the only person in the world known as Prabhay.

Nick on Amanda…..

Amanda Campbell has recently completed her second year at UCL where she studies Architecture . Living in London, Amanda considers environmental sustainability as a potential career choice but keeps her mind open to all paths that she would find engaging, challenging and exciting. Amanda’s spontaneity has proved to be a blessing and a curse simultaneously. It has enabled her to experience an incredible gap year trip across Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam but has also resulted in a few uncomfortable but funny situations! Amanda values her impulsive nature as it has led her to Balloon Kenya, an experience she can’t wait begin.

Amanda on Nick….

Nick O’ Farrell. 19. Easy going Essex Lad. Studies Business Economics at University of Exeter. He enjoys boxing and tennis. Supports Liverpool. No ones perfect. He tried and failed Mandarin but successful hitch-hiked from Exeter to Amsterdam. From this experience he learnt that hitch-hiking isn’t as easy as it looks! Nick is keen to gain an insight into social enterprise from this experience.

Nirmal on Manavi…..

Manavi Perera was born in Sri Lanka and is studying Politics with International Development at Northampton University. She can speak Sinhalese and English. It is her first time in Kenya and she joined the Balloon Kenya programme because she wants to apply her degree more practically as well as travel and help people as best as she can. Some of her key interesting facts include her volunteering job in the London 2012 Olympics where she met several global celebrities including David Beckham and One Republic. Finally, she is also a part of her university rugby team and enjoys swimming.

Vicki on Rik…..

Rik Ganly is a recent History graduate from UCL. Rik is interested in the process of entrepreneurship and empowering people to take action to better themselves. His hobbies include political activism, badminton and acting. Having gone to Canada and worked with First Nations people, Rick became interested in the network society and distributing power which is also what led him to Balloon Kenya. Rick enjoys fast paced and business oriented environments, loves travelling and immersing himself in new cultures.

Rik on Vicki…

Vicki Dorling is a young business-woman and serial-volunteer who is passionate about entrepreneurship. She is currently reading Economics at the University of Newcastle and in her free time, Vicki uses her talents to inspire others to reach their potential as Vice President of Newcastle’s Young Entrepreneurs society. Interning at the university’s well regarded ‘Rise Up’ business arm, she helped run a highly successful Young Apprentice competition and hugely enjoyed meeting the significant challenges that it presented. Having volunteered and worked with young people in a variety of other capacities Vicki was inspired to join the Balloon Kenya programme because of it’s commitment to creating tangible, long term results for the local community. Her other interests include dance and drama and she looks forward to an exciting trip inter-railing around Europe after the programme finishes.

 Apolina on Liv….

Born and raised in the middle of nowhere, but close to Stratford, Lavinia is studying Sociology at Durham University. She has a passion for travelling and discovering new cultures around the globe, which she probably got from her parents, who have both worked for an airline. She’s also into more hardcore stuff like horse riding, hockey, and netball. She’d really like to spend some time living abroad somewhere random like Australia, Vietnam, Singapore, or the US. She’s also preparing big time for her 21st birthday, expected to be the biggest and craziest party in the UK since the 80s. 

Liv on Shivani…

Shivani is 23 and was born and grew-up in London, where she is still currently living. She studied for her undergraduate degree at Oxford and went on to do a course at SOAS. She is hoping to start a masters course at SOAS this September. Throughout her academic life she has orientated her focus towards studying politics and economics.

Shivani’s father is Indian, but was born in Nakuru giving her a real personal interest in the area in which we are working. Shivani has worked for the NGO ‘Learning Journey’ in India which was focused around experiencing local Indian culture. Shivani enjoys Salsa dancing and can speak French, Spanish and Gujarati, a local Indian dialect. She also hopes to learn Swahili next year!

Nichola on Aisling…..

Aisling Creagan is an undergraduate at the University College London studying French.

Aisling is from Portsmouth and particularly enjoys musical theatre. Aisling is passionate about the importance of education. Frustrated with the British education system which maintains a “jumping through hoops” agenda, Aisling aspires to work one day within a more liberal system like in Scandinavia.

Alessandro on Sarina…..

From Birmingham, Sarina is the eldest of 3 with a Kenyan Indian father and Indian mother. She freely admits bickering with her two brothers although their relationship has improved since she started at the LSE to study economics.

Interesting fact? Well it turns out that Sarina is a keen scuba diver and has descended 90 meters in places as far flung as the Caribbean and Mexico. Amongst the sharks and other sea critters she has seen, it is a particular sea turtle that crept up on her on a night dive that has stayed in her memory.

Ali on Paddy……

Paddy Hartigan is a recent graduate of university of Sussex where he studied Business and Marketing. He is on Balloon Kenya to immerse in Kenyan culture, learn Swahili and apply his studies to entrepreneurship. He loves giraffes and climbed mount Kilimanjaro without health insurance.

Prabs on Ali……

Ali has just finished his second year at UCL studying Economics and Geography. Having co-founded UCL entrepreneur’s seed fund he has a strong interest in innovation and start-ups. Last year he travelled to Ghana to support Global Brigades’ micro finance initiatives and after Balloon Kenya he hopes to expand his knowledge on software development and eventually develop his own software business. Interesting fact: Ali has created his own iPhone app.

Martin on Lewis…..

Lewis hails from Old Windsor and is 20 years old.  He is currently studying Product Design and Technology at Loughborough University.  In his free time, Lewis enjoys playing tennis and is training for a marathon.  McGregor has been interested in design since secondary school, and isn’t keen on working for anyone but himself.  A true entrepreneurial spirit, Lewis is planning to develop a business idea/product this coming year at university which he is looking to cultivate into the future.  He is very interested in sustainability and sustainable design, which he believes are key to development.  His favourite possession is a fishy pen that he holds dear to his heart. 

Lewis on Martin….

Martin was born in Boston and lives in Massachusetts. He is currently studying International Relations and Economics at the University of St. Andrews and will be going into his third year in September. He was keen to participate in Balloon Kenya because he enjoys seeing different parts of the world whilst spending his time doing actual good, and gaining a better entrepreneurial mind-set to use in future. Martin recently ran a marathon in an epic time of 3:54, and hopes to one day host his own cooking show.