In her second blog post, student Natalie French (BA Social Work) talks about her work with entrepreneurs as part of a placement with Balloon Kenya.
Wow, what an amazing experience this has proven to be! Throughout my six weeks in Kenya, I supported four entrepreneurs in the development of their existing businesses. I worked as part of a small team to enhance our entrepreneurs’ knowledge base around account keeping and Business Model Canvas, a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. We also helped them to come up with new ideas to improve their current businesses and increase their revenue. As part of the project, we also helped them to prepare to pitch their business idea in order to secure a 0%, unsecured loan.
As a social work student, I had very basic knowledge around business and finance. One thing I quickly realised was that a business degree would be helpful, but not essential. Through the placement I was able to acquire business skills and knowledge, whilst applying my social skills in order to build up an excellent rapport with my entrepreneurs.
I worked with four different entrepreneurs, all with different business prospects and all of whom were truly passionate about making their businesses successful. One of the entrepreneurs, Apollo, was a true inspiration. His business, Pol-Yielderphos Enterprise, provided mineral supplements to local farmers in order to increase milk production and maintain the health of the herd. It has been amazing to learn and see a business grow and I am hopeful he will be successful in the future.
A key difference in Kenya is the prevalence of religion. All of my entrepreneurs had a strong belief in God and attended church every Sunday with their families. When visiting the families of my entrepreneurs we were made to feel welcome and on leaving, the head of the family would say a prayer for us. All of my entrepreneurs prayed daily for customers to buy their products in order to be able to provide for their families. Although I am not religious myself, it was a privilege to be a part of this.
In Nakuru, all businesses work together and help one another in order to learn new ways to attract new customers. I have learned that working together in business has a real value: it enhances revenue and success and promotes positivity within society. Working with my entrepreneurs and their families has been very rewarding. They were full of positivity and were keen to learn in order to develop their businesses. The whole experience has made me realise my potential and reflect on what is important to me in life.
If you would be interested in taking part in an overseas placement, see the Hull Careers Service website for more details on where you could go, what you could do and how to apply. In some cases, the Careers Service may be able to help with funding towards the costs of your placement.