About Us

Josh and Doug founded Balloon Ventures in 2011 when they saw the potential of entrepreneurs in Kenya to defeat poverty through growing businesses. Today, we run enterprise programmes in Africa and Asia that provide training and funding to entrepreneurs through their entire business journey.

Our Mission

We will… create a world where potential is realised 

By… providing continued investment, education and support to help local entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses

Because… unleashing the talent of small-scale entrepreneurs will end poverty.

Our Story

In the summer of 2010, Josh was in Kenya conducting research for his Master’s Thesis, interviewing members of the communities involved in the 2007-8 post-election violence in the country. Through these conversations he was struck by the extent to which the conflict was rooted in poverty and unemployment.

Whilst in Kenya, he met Betty Odour, who manages an orphanage in Busia, Western Kenya. Betty made Josh aware of the acute employment problems facing young people in Kenya – “One of our biggest concerns,” she told him “is what our children are going to do when they finish school. They will have to find work, but there are no jobs here. I fear some will end up back on the streets.”

Returning to England, Josh understood the desperate need for jobs across all sections of Kenyan society. While interning, Josh met Doug and they began to talk, sharing their frustrations with the lack of exciting and meaningful job opportunities. Together, they founded Balloon to utilise the commitment and energy of young people to drive social change.  

In February 2012 Balloon Ventures was formally registered and the rest, as they say, is history…

The Balloon Approach

1. Out of the building incubation – Volunteer facilitators go to entrepreneurs to deliver support at their place of work. This gives our volunteers the opportunity to understand the full business context to provide tailored and intensive support to each entrepreneur. This also creates minimal disruption to the entrepreneurs, making the programme accessible to all.

2. Growth-focussed finance – Understanding the negative impact that high interest loans with strict repayment conditions have on business growth, we offer 0% interest unsecured loans. We take more risks, and invest in entrepreneurs who would be overlooked by traditional financing options. This ultimately leads to more exciting and unique businesses growing faster.

3. Scaling impact through multi-stage support – We provide support to entrepreneurs for their entire business journey, helping them grow from micro-businesses into SMEs. Multiple tiers of funding, varied technical instruction and full-time local staff mean we can offer each entrepreneur a tailored approach founded on trust and built over many years.

Our Team

Balloon’s Head Office is in London’s Kings Cross. We also have offices in Nakuru (Kenya), Mbale (Uganda) and Ho (Ghana).

As a youth led organisation 95% of our staff are under the age of 35 and many are graduates of Balloon programmes. Our Programme Coordinators live full time in the towns and cities where we work to create excellent community relations, knowledge and trust.