Balloon’s First Corporate Volunteering Programme
In Kenya we’re one week into the Citi Volunteer Africa programme run in partnership with VSO Knowledge Exchange. 12 employees of Citibank from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa have joined us in Nakuru to work with 8 of the most exceptional entrepreneurs who have graduated through previous Balloon programmes.
For Balloon this is a massively exciting moment as it’s the first time we’ve a) run a programme at scale with a large corporate and b) been able to offer intensive support combined with larger funding for our most successful entrepreneurs.
Working in teams of 3, the Citi Volunteers will each support 8 entrepreneurs for 4 weeks, rapidly developing and testing ideas to plan strategies to scale.
On Wednesday 27th of April the entrepreneurs will present their ideas and £5000 of funds will be distributed. Joining us on that Wednesday will be Manolo Falco, Head of Corporate and Investment Banking for EMEA, who has been a large driving force behind the programme. We excited to see what he makes of the businesses!
It’s very exciting to see the progress of some of the entrepreneurs that we’ve supported since starting in Kenya. For example, take Apollo who was supported by James, Wendy and Nathalie in 2014. Back then Apollo was producing around 150kg of cow feed supplement. With Balloon he launched a brand, approached and won new customers, developed new packaging and sizes and improved his profit margins. Now he produces over 1000kg each month and just received an order for 4 tonnes! (4000kg). He now needs support improving his production and distribution and winning even bigger customers.
Another wonderful story is Pamela. She runs an orphanage supporting 65 children and a school providing free education to a further 185 children. She was using a tailoring business to support this but sadly there was a break-in and all of her machines were stolen. With Balloon Pamela received a loan of £250 to buy new machines and as of March 2016 had received orders worth £4500 with all profit going to support the orphanage and school. With Citi she’ll be working to grow these orders further and potentially open a new shop in town.
Having seen the effort and passion from everyone this first week I can’t wait to see how these businesses and entrepreneurs develop!