Student helps business balloon in Kenya

8th October 2013

Entrepreneurs in Kenya have had their business prospects boosted thanks to support from a Sheffield Hallam University student.

Dan Garlick, a final-year business studies student, spent the summer in the Kenyan town of Nakuru where he provided valuable business advice to local traders. The 21-year-old from Loughborough, was one of 24 students from across the world picked to take part in the global Balloon Kenya scheme. He spent six weeks working with a group of 11 local entrepreneurs all of whom had businesses ranging from clothing stores, fruit stalls, shoe shops and motorbike transport service while another wanted to start an affordable recording studio. "They all wanted to grow their businesses and improve their standard of living, as some earned as little as £2 per day," said Dan. "Some had little concept of basic business principles like profit margins or cash-flow systems so we spent the first fortnight in the classroom getting them to think outside of the box and look at ways they could improve their businesses. It was important that we were there to be facilitators rather than leaders in this project and we wanted to steer them away from the copy-cat culture that you see over there with stalls on every street selling exactly the same products." In the latter part of the project, Dan had the task of preparing his cohort to pitch their business proposals in a bid for funding from the scheme's partner organisation, Hope and Vision. The outcome of the pitches has yet to be announced and Dan is still in touch with his students to find out how they fared. "I'm really proud of them all," said Dan. "They all had such a passion and commitment to learn and you could see that they don't take education for granted. "One of my proudest moments was seeing them all blossom in confidence, in particular, Jackson. He was 44 and had a wife and four children and he sold suits for women. He was so shy at the beginning and lacked confidence. He only focused on selling suit jackets and skirts but after some encouragement, I got him thinking about increasing his stock and he became really driven. He came out of his pitch with the biggest smile on his face so I really hope he gets the funding." Dan is now back in Sheffield but his Balloon Kenya experience has resulted in the University's Students Union providing part-funding for two places on next year's scheme.

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