"In 2016, we provided over 250 entrepreneurs with loans totalling £60,000 - this allows entrepreneurs to tap into opportunities they would not otherwise have been able to explore"
Last year, our Insight & Impact team began compiling a report for the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) on the impact of the loans we give out as part of our International Citizenship Service (ICS) programme. We're delighted to be publishing this report today.
As part of each 12-week programme cycle, entrepreneurs who have worked with Balloon volunteers pitch for real funding, offered as 0% or very-low-interest loans. This money is used to fund an innovation project focussed on growing and developing the entrepreneur’s business.
You can find the full report at the bottom of this blog post, but we caught up with Dr Nicholas Andreou, I&I Lead here at Balloon, to ask him a little bit about the report and why it’s so important to understanding the value of our work.
So, Nick, can you give us a quick overview of the report?
Sure. The Balloon loan is an integral part of our overall intervention. We put together this report better to answer the question “what is the impact of our loans?”. Our theory of change sets out the process by which we hope our intervention creates impact. This report is structured as a summary of the key metrics that emerge from our theory of change. We’ve also included two case studies to provide some more detailed examples of how the loan creates impact in practice.
What are the 3 big take-away insights from the report, in your opinion?
- In 2016 we provided over 250 entrepreneurs with loans totalling £60,000 – this allows entrepreneurs to tap into opportunities they would not otherwise have been able to explore.
- Motivated by the opportunity to access finance, entrepreneurs really engage in the learning component of our intervention. We see impact in the level of understanding and skills in record keeping, marketing and testing out new ideas.
- Both the education and finance elements of our intervention are necessary for maximum change.
What prompted you to author this report?
We are always interested in what works and what doesn’t, because that’s an important part of getting better. The research behind this report was part of what we’re doing to understand our impact. We decided to publish it because we believe it’s important to be transparent about how well we’re doing.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the loans? How do they work? What impact have we seen them have?
Providing affordable finance is a cornerstone of Balloon’s work across all of our programmes. Entrepreneurs are recruited knowing that access to the loan is competitive – loans are only issued to those who meet Balloon’s twelve-point funding criteria. In particular, we’re looking for clear evidence, based on testing, that whatever the loan will be used for will work. This helps de-risk our investment, whilst ensuring the greatest likelihood of success for the entrepreneur.
And finally, why should people read the full report? Who is it for?
Anyone who is interested in understanding a bit more about how the Balloon ICS programme and the Balloon Loan Fund work, as well as their impact, should read this report!