Balloon Ventures defeats poverty through growing businesses that create good jobs where they are needed most. We operate through two organisations, a social enterprise and a charity, working as partners to achieve our shared goals.
Balloon Ventures exists to capitalise and grow high potential small businesses in East Africa.
We believe every small business that can grow, should grow.
For us, businesses that can grow have more than just good business fundamentals. They are driven forward by brilliant, dependable leaders who are deeply committed to realising growth.
And growth goes way beyond the bottom line. It means providing good quality jobs in poverty reducing sectors that are attractive, accessible and attainable for the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in any community.
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…
1. Out of the building incubation – Our teams go to entrepreneurs to deliver support at their place of work. We build a deep understanding of the full business context to provide tailored and intensive support to each entrepreneur. This also creates minimal disruption to the entrepreneurs, making our model accessible to all.
2. Growth-focussed finance – Understanding the negative impact that loans with strict repayment conditions have on business growth, we offer growth focused finance combining low interest debt with revenue share arrangements. 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.
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.