Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.
Joshua and Douglas both had experience in entrepreneurial environments prior to launching Balloon, as the project lead developing a Human Centred Design practice at the Young Foundation, and as the first staff member at a start-up social enterprise, managing their business development function.
While at Balloon they have also launched a corporate training arm, a consultancy for universities looking to improve their enterprise offer to students, and Balloon Online, a web platform funded by the Nominet Trust that supports other young people to start their own self-employment journey. The beta version of Balloon Online is due for release early in 2016.
Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?
VSO: VSO is the world’s leading international development organisation that uses volunteers to fight poverty and reduce inequality. Over 40,000 people have volunteered with VSO, and they currently operate programs in 25 countries with over 650 local partners. Receiving a UK Department of International Development contract, in 2014, part of this was subcontracted to Balloon. With this, VSO’s contributed to Balloon’s development. Their experience in the area contributed to development of program quality as well as developing recruitment, training, and monitoring and evaluation capacity. VSO have also provided support in developing in country networks with other partner organisations.
Hope and Vision: Hope and Vision are a Youth Savings and Credit Co-operative (SACCO) that formed in 2006 and have since grown to have over 100 members with $80,000 of savings. In 2011 they were awarded “Best Managed Youth Co-operative” in Nakuru County and in 2012 they won the award for the “Best Managed Youth Co-operative” in the whole of Kenya. We work with them to recruit the Kenyan participants, manage the Balloon investment fund and offer ongoing support to funded groups.
In every program location we work with a local SACCO to support with the recruitment of entrepreneur, funding decisions and loan management.
Melinda Phillips: Melinda has 25 years of business experience leading substantial not-for-profit organisations and influencing national policy on housing, ageing and care. For 16 years she was Chief Executive of Housing 21, one of the UK’s leading housing associations with 7500 staff, 18000 rented homes and an annual turnover of over £200 million.
Ije Nwokorie: Ije is the Global CEO of Wolff Olins, one of the world’s leading brand consultancies. He was born in America, bred in Nigeria, and enlightened in England. Ije’s passion lies in interpreting business problems as creative challenges. Most recently Ije has worked with Mercedes-Benz to help transform it into a 21st Century service business, and with Skype unleashing a new generation of products.
Yvonne Roberts: Yvonne is currently Chief Lead Writer at the Observer. She has been an award winning journalist, writer and broadcaster for over 30 years and has written for every broadsheet covering social policy, politics, investigations, features and comment. Yvonne has also been a trustee for a number of charities and is a member of Channel 4’s education advisory board.
Mark Steeves: Mark is an international businessman who founded consultancy and start-up investor, Samphire & Associates, in 2010. Samphire has interests in agriculture, financial services and media. Mark is a partner at corporate advisory firm, Partner Capital, a director of the Business Council for Africa and a mentor for Femmes Africa Solidarité. Before 2010, he worked in the oil & gas industry then in financial services, latterly as Head of Africa at HSBC Insurance Brokers.