Join the Hub! Balloon Receives Funding from the Citi Foundation

At Balloon, we help businesses thrive through building capacity and skills in finance, product design, strategy and marketing. Our vision is a world where the world’s poorest communities are supported and sustained through unlocking the potential in local, micro-scale businesses.

Key to this vision is a three-stage model, where we help entrepreneurs in emerging markets be the best that they can be through increasing levels of support provided by volunteers.

At the base of this pyramid is the work undertaken by volunteers on our Balloon ICS programme, a scheme funded by the UK Government which enables teams of international volunteers to work with entrepreneurs in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana.

At the other end is our innovative work with the most successful and enterprising entrepreneurs we work with, which we’re calling Micro Venture Capital. It’s a way of growing the best and most promising businesses and blasting them into SME-territory through a mix of intensive support, provided by business experts, and equity finance to fund their next stage of growth. We’re currently trialling Micro Venture Capital as part of the IDEO Amplify Global Youth Empowerment Challenge, and you can read all about it here and here.

This year, Citi Volunteers worked with Prossy, owner of a hairdressing salon.

Today, we’re excited to announce that, thanks to the support of the Citi Foundation, we’ll be continuing that work in Uganda, and expanding into Kenya…

The middle stage, though, is truly vital, and is how we test and prove entrepreneurs’ businesses and to see whether they’re ready to be taken to the dizzying heights of stage 3. Our recent work with global Citi employees, which saw 24 members of Citi staff work with entrepreneurs in Jinja and Mbale, Uganda, provides the model for how we want to pair experienced, early-career professionals with established businesses in and intensive, 5-week intervention.

Today, we’re excited to announce that, thanks to the support of the Citi Foundation, we’ll be continuing that work in Uganda, and expanding into Kenya, too, working with entrepreneurs in Nakuru. In collaboration with VSO, and as part of Citi’s ‘Pathways to Progress’ programme, Balloon Ventures will provide ongoing access to marketing, financial and strategy expertise based in the community. This project builds on over 6 years of micro-entrepreneur support, during which time we’ve worked with thousands of entrepreneurs and hundreds of volunteers. Vitally, the grant allows us to work with entrepreneurs beyond just the duration of our volunteer programmes, further ensuring long-term and sustainable impact.

We know that these three key business areas are where micro-businesses in emerging markets struggle the most, and we’re energised and excited at the prospect of using this grant from the Citi Foundation to fuel the next stage of business growth and innovation in Uganda.

Watch this space for more information and progress updates from this exciting project.

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