A Day In The Life…

In my group there is Albert (In Country Volunteer), Hayley (UK Volunteer) and myself (Jonathan, UK Volunteer).   We have been working with five entrepreneurs for the past few weeks and I would like to share my Week 4 Monday experience.

Usually people are not so fond of Mondays, however, on this occasion – I was looking forward to seizing the first day of the week because we were getting ready to conduct some market research for one of our entrepreneurs.

Agnes is a lovely lady who wants to open a cosmetic salon. Before coming on the programme, she wanted to sell cereals but decided to move towards cosmetics because she realised she was more passionate about beauty. Until now we’ve only had the chance to arrange 3 sessions with her so we were keen to get stuck in.

Agnes lives in Heshima and to get to her home I had to jump on the matatu (public transport) from my host home to town, and then from town to Heshima. As we arrived at Agnes’ home, we waited a little as she finished still getting ready. At our last meeting, the group had decided to make a deal with Agnes; if we did not arrive at her house for exactly 9:00am, we would have to buy her a live chicken, so we made every effort to make sure we were at her door for 9am on the dot!

Hayley and Jonathan Nakuru

Ready to leave the house, we hit the road and started the research across the street from where she lives. As we headed to the first salon, our team leaders arrived to see how we were getting on – since it was the day we had been told that our team leaders would be with us.

Our group had created some questionnaires to ask potential customers and competitors in order for Agnes to gain a better understating of the cosmetic industry. It was exciting because now we were getting to the practical stuff (I love a bit of practicality in life) and we were ready to test the assumptions we’d made about her business idea and establish whether it would actually appeal to her customer segment. Also, it was exciting for us to see Agnes talk to customers about something she is really passionate about.

We got to the first salon and the elderly lady seated by the entrance welcomed us and told us to wait inside as she went to get the owner. We ended up waiting for over 20 minutes and decided we would return once we had finished our market research with customers and competitors. It was wonderful to see Agnes engaging potential customers and other cosmetic shop owners whilst we took a back seat. We ended up asking 10 customers and 2 shop owners and after Agnes finished her market research we organised to meet her later in the week to look over the findings from the morning.

We then headed over to Mariakani to meet another entrepreneur. Onesmus is awesome and works in agriculture. He wants to diversify his business by building a tomato greenhouse that produces quality vegetables, meets customer demands and hopefully reaches a point where he can start employing others. Working with Onesmus is always insightful because he teaches us about the agricultural industry and every time we meet we always learn something new about vegetables.

As we arrived at Onesmus’ home, he welcomed us in and we started going over the Business Model Canvas (BMC) with him. The BMC is a tool we are taught in the first week of Balloon Curriculum training and maps out what is needed to start or innovate a business that delivers value to customers. Onesmus was very clear about how he wanted his business to run, and because of past experience, he was well connected in the industry.  Hayley and Jonathan Nakuru

After learning a lot from Onesmus’ business and about his aspirations, he took us out to the field and he showed us where he wanted to have the greenhouse. The group came to a conclusion that Onesmus was ready to test all of our assumptions so we arranged to meet him on Wednesday for testing.

After a productive day with the entrepreneurs; each member of the team was aware of what they needed to do when they got back to their host homes. Our group motto is ‘work for rewards’ so we usually find ourselves relaxing after a fulfilling days work. One of my favourite spots is at the hotel lobby close to where I get my matatu home; it is cosy and has quick wifi. After work I usually relax with a glass of Coca Cola and maybe read a book. Before it starts to get dark, I make my way home to my host family because that is usually when everyone is back from work.


It is always an awesome feeling when I get to the host home! I have a little sister, Shushi, who is 3 years old and she is absolutely adorable. She really puts a smile on my face as soon as I get in the house. I greet my host parents, Pops and Mum, drop my bag in my room, make my way to the living room and talk about how the day went. My counterpart, Robert, is hilarious; he usually tells the family about his peculiar experiences of the day and makes us all laugh. We talk and watch television until dinner is ready. Mostly we will eat ugali and meat for dinner. In my first 3 weeks at the host home I thought it was a bit too much, but now I look forward to eating ugali on Mondays, it is my favourite after chapatti. As we eat our dinner we watch a Mexican soap called ‘La Gata’ and finish with the Kenyan news. After dinner we help with the cleaning, then we relax some more as a family, until each person is ready to go to sleep!

There you have it folks, a UK volunteer’s Monday!



Jonathan Lisika, ICS Volunteer, Nakuru, Kenya 2015