The Millennial Generation grew up learning to follow their dreams and never settle for less. They can be extremely clever and resourceful, and know how to operate any gadget imaginable. But they can also be a handful for boomer managers, who now learn to deal with this new generation of workers by way of “coaching” rather than “bossing”. Still, their relentlessness and desire to pursue ambitious activities are exactly what makes them great entrepreneurs.
Joshua Bicknell and Douglas Cochrane met while interning at the Young Foundation. After graduating and frustrated with the lack of opportunity in the UK to pursue something other than a 9-to-5 job, they teamed up to create Balloon Kenya – a social enterprise that would put together the minds of UK graduates and young Kenyans to build businesses that would create job opportunities in Kenya to address poverty and unemployment.
While conducting research for his Master’s thesis in Kenya, Bicknell visited an orphanage and learned that many of the older residents were forced to leave and survive on their own. But the future for them is gloom. Because there are no jobs, many of them would simply end up back on the streets.
For the first six months, both founders faced lots of criticism: they were told to be too young, too inexperienced, and the young people that they recruit will also lack the knowledge and expertise to create successful businesses.
So far, Balloon Kenya has supported the creation of garbage collection services, a business selling dried vegetables, and one that turns plastic waste into fence posts. All of these businesses create not only jobs, but revenue streams that make them self-sustainable. They often tackle more than one social or environmental problem, such as rising food prices and deforestation.
Balloon Kenya is a two-part program that runs twice a year for those under 30. The first part requires UK graduates to travel to Kenya for two months where they support Kenyans in creating new social ventures. Upon returning to the UK, they have the opportunity to work with mentors to launch their own social ventures. This year, Balloon Kenya opened up the first part to applicants worldwide.
One participant said: “Now I see all problems as potential businesses. For example, we always complained in the group about relationship problems. But now we realize that this is a business opportunity and we will soon be launching Nakuru’s first dating agency.”
In other words, Millennials see an opportunity to create the change they want to see in the world through business. We can expect them to follow this endeavor with determination.
Photo from Balloon Kenya.
Social Enterprise Buzz is a media company dedicated to covering social enterprise news from around the world. We publish a range of stories from startups to entrepreneurship, innovation, and finance, which showcase business making the world a better place. Read more.