Challenge Yourself To Change Your World

Balloon ICS is a unique volunteering programme, offering fully-funded placements for UK Residents aged 18-25 to work with local entrepreneurs in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana, helping to build businesses and change lives.

Why ICS?


Fully-Funded Volunteering Opportunities



Learn Industry-Leading Business Skills



Work with Entrepreneurs in Africa



Build Businesses,
Change Lives


Balloon ICS is a once-in-a-lifetime volunteering opportunity funded by UK Government and led by VSO.

After training in the UK, you’ll spend 10-12 weeks in Uganda, Kenya or Ghana working with local entrepreneurs to launch or grow businesses that create jobs and improve lives. You will then return to the UK and continue to make impact in your local community through your ‘Action at Home’.

Balloon ICS is one of the first international programmes that brings together entrepreneurs, youth volunteers and innovative microfinance to positively change lives.

The Balloon ICS Journey


Before you leave for placement, our dedicated team of Volunteer Development Officers will walk you through the necessary preparations for your departure.

Our online learning platform, Pathright, leads you through each and every step, and you’ll be supported by your dedicated Volunteer Development Officer Throughout.

You’ll attend pre-placement training, where our specialist team will ensure you’re fully briefed on all aspects of cultural awareness; safety & security; and the outline of the Balloon ICS programme in more detail.

Weeks 1-2

When you arrive in-country, you’ll meet with your team of 10 UK volunteers and 10 local volunteers.

You’ll then complete the Balloon Enterprise Curriculum, which has been developed with leading entrepreneurs and experts from across the world.

You’ll learn the key entrepreneurial tools and approaches covering topics like customer development; lean startup principles; design thinking and the business model canvas.

The training is fun and hands-on, getting you into the community to design a vending machine, or create a new brand for a local shoe seller.

Don’t worry if you don’t have prior business experience, we’ll give you everything you need to do a great job.

Weeks 3-9

As part of a group of 3, you’ll be partnered with around 6 local entrepreneurs. Some will already have a small business and be looking for growth. Others will only have the seed of an idea.

You’ll share the skills and techniques you gained from the Balloon Curriculum with your entrepreneurs during in-class time and your creativity will be stimulated as you try to uncover new business opportunities. 

We believe that entrepreneurship is a contact sport, and so you’ll spend the majority of your time outside of the classroom, testing ideas with customers in the real world.

You work will be varied and might involve helping to launch new products; initiating marketing strategies; or putting business plans into action.

Your aim is to help your entrepreneurs devise plans for sustainable growth so your work has impact long after you return home.

Weeks 10-12

In week 10, you’ll work with your entrepreneurs working towards pitching their business, ‘Dragon’s Den’ style. Each entrepreneur has 30 minutes to present their business and answer questions in front of an expert pitching panel.

You will prepare your entrepreneurs to pitch for real investment, working with them to build a funding proposal full of the evidence and insight from the previous weeks.

Post-pitch, you then join the expert panel to carry out due diligence on the entrepreneurs and their ideas and collect further information.

At the end of this time, with your input, around 50% of the entrepreneurs will achieve the funding they need to take their business to the next level.


Balloon ICS is only the beginning of your journey as an international citizen.

The final part of the placement takes place when you get home. Our Volunteer Development Officers will work with you to devise an 'Action at Home' that continues the great work you've started on placement.

Whether that's starting your own social enterprise, supporting local business people, or telling the story of your time on placement, your Action at Home is an important part of Balloon ICS.

Unlocking the potential in small-scale entrepreneurs will defeat poverty

Meet Bernard

Bernard is a street seller in Nakuru, Kenya, who worked with Balloon Volunteers in 2016. At the end of his time working with our volunteers, his determination, motivation and attitude had really impressed!

He pitched for 20,000 Kenyan Shillings to invest in new stock to grow his business, as well as to cultivate new crops on a small plot of farmland he owns outside the town.

Balloon Ventures provided the loan for the full amount, which will help Bernard to provide continue to grow his business, improving his community and changing the lives of his family.

Meet Mildred

Mildred runs her salon, 'Divine', in the heart of her community.

It's not just somewhere to have your hair done, it plays a vital role in bringing people together.

She worked with Balloon volunteers in 2015 and her business has grown significantly since.

She described our volunteers as "very empowering and inspiring people". And her advice for anyone thinking of taking part in a Balloon programme?

"Just go for it!"

Apply Now

Applying for Balloon ICS offers you a life changing opportunity, and the opportunity to help chane lives in Kenya, Uganda or Ghana.

Fill in your details below to be taken to the VolunteerICS application form.