If you think that young people aren’t doing anything constructive, think again.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing 19 year old Renee Campbell from South London who has been accepted on a 12 week voluntary placement with Balloon Ventures Foundation to provide business training to entrepreneurs in Africa.
Who are Balloon Ventures?
Balloon Ventures Foundation are a social enterprise that train, support and fund aspiring entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia to grow businesses that create change to improve lives and communities. It is a government programme for young people between 18-35 which is 90% government funded and 10% funded by volunteers. For more information about this great organisation go to – http://www.balloonventures.com and read about some of the success stories.
What made you want to volunteer for this placement?
You will see from Renee’s profile picture that she is wearing a t-shirt that says ‘Say yes!’ which sums her up perfectly. Renee’s philosophy is say yes to life’s opportunities and see where they take you.
“I volunteered for Balloon Ventures because I want to help people like me. My goal is to improve the financial status of people in Africa and the Caribbean by empowering them to build sustainable businesses.
I want to work with people on the ground – see the flaws, find out from the people themselves what they need and work with them to deliver solutions.”
Renee, who is British Caribbean, wants to support people from Africa and the Caribbean to realise their potential, by supporting them to build their skills, own their power and if applicable re-market themselves.
“I want to contribute to the motherland, pass on the knowledge and skills that I have been taught. I also believe that my western perspective on successful business models will add to their business ideas.”
Where are you going and what will a typical day look like?
“I will be going to Nakuru in Kenya for 12 weeks. I will be staying with a local family sharing a room with another volunteer. Before I go I will research the cultural norms and expectations of the country so that I respect, acknowledge and recognise the culture and traditions. There will be a lot to learn, it will be a humble first hand experience. They can learn about British culture from me too. We can learn from each other.
I will receive business training from Balloon Ventures in the UK before my placement. During the first 2 weeks of my placement I will receive further classroom based training. I will be meeting other volunteers (both UK and Kenyan), have one on one business meetings, facilitate sessions and teach entrepreneurs key skills and business tools. After 8 weeks my entrepreneurs and myself would have established a business plan. If they choose to, and its right for their business, they can apply for an interest free loan from the charity to start up their business by doing a ‘Dragons Den’ style pitch for the funds. Alternatively they can receive other types of support with their business to set it up.”
What would you say to people who question your decision to do this?
“I would say why not? Why not take the once in a lifetime opportunity? It’s 12 weeks out of your life to do something good, explore the world, learn something new, broaden your mind, refocus your world education and make a difference. It’s better than working to live why not travel to give.“
What happens when you return?
“We will record the skills we learned abroad and graduate from the course. There will be a Reunion Day where there will be opportunities to connect with alumni and network with different stakeholders.”
Renee sees herself having a business herself one day. She will be studying a degree in International Business soon after this placement so watch this space. “I want to make and affect real change and become an influencer. I want to influence new and established programmes here and abroad.”
Final thoughts from the interviewer
I am very proud of Renee for wanting to volunteer for this very worthy cause. It will not only help people abroad but will also develop many of her own skills. It’s great that people from Africa see people who look like them in a mentoring role. Renee will be a role model, someone to aspire to not only for the people she supports but to her peer group. Proof that you can make a difference.
Renee’s place has already been funded and she is due to leave on or before 28 February 2018, however she has to crowd fund £800 by 8 February 2018 to secure her space and ‘pay it forward’ for future volunteers. Renee has raised over £500 already and has even offered her skills as a babysitter, photographer etc in exchange for donations to the placement. Please help Renee reach her remaining goal which is now under £300 – it will only take 30 people to donate £10 to get there. Please go to the link below:
Join me in wishing Renee all the best on her African adventure. I look forward to hearing and seeing what Renee accomplishes in the near and not so near future. Show your support by donating, sending her a message or sharing her story. Young people are doing great things, we need to acknowledge and support them when they do.
Cinnamon & Brown