Balloon Launches Micro Venture Capital!


Today, I’m excited to announce that Balloon Ventures has been announced a winner of the OpenIDEO Youth Empowerment Challenge funded by DFID.

Out of over 500 submissions our idea was 1 of 6 selected. You can read about our submission, and the other winning entries, here.

Balloon’s ambition has always been to support entrepreneurs for their entire business journey. We want to be part of that journey at every stage, and scale our support and funding as they scale their businesses.

So far, most of the businesses we’ve supported are micro in scale, and that means offering small amounts of funding as well as technical support around business fundamentals. In 2017, we’ll do this at scale and have over 500 volunteers supporting 1000 entrepreneurs in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana.

However, increasingly we’ve seen businesses graduating from our programmes and growing to employ 3-10 people. Similarly, through our work in communities we’ve come across small businesses that we feel have real potential to grow substantially.

To briefly look at the numbers, in Kenya we conservatively estimate that there are 4 million micro businesses in the informal sector. Whilst It’s true that the vast majority of these businesses are designed for subsistence, and will never grow substantially, we have always believed that people are far too quick to write off the informal sector and its potential. Our belief, is that at least 2% of these businesses can grow to become SMEs, each employing 10 or more people. That’s 80,000 businesses creating 800,000 jobs!

Currently, these businesses have virtually no support to grow. Loans from banks and microfinance are not well designed to support them because of the strict terms and high interest rates. And funding is just half the challenge: knowledge focused on how to grow the business is arguably more important, and is an area that is currently severely lacking.

Therefore we’re looking at 80,000 businesses with massive potential to grow, but no support or funding to get there. And that’s where Balloon can help.

Balloon Micro Venture Capital will find micro entrepreneurs with the passion and ideas to grow and offer them 2 years of intensive support focusing on strategy, marketing, record keeping and operations plus investment of around £10,000.

This is a uniquely-designed fund for informal sector entrepreneurs, and through this support we hope to prove the potential of these entrepreneurs.

All of us at Balloon are excited to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation within small business support and we look forward to reporting on the successes and inevitable challenges that arise.

If you have ideas, questions, insights please email me at