Sheffield Hallam University graduate helps budding businesses in Kenya

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A Sheffield Hallam University graduate has spent the summer working with budding entrepreneurs in Kenya in a bid to help tackle poverty.

Alessandra Pipier visited Kericho and worked with young entrepreneurs for six weeks as part of a trip organised by Balloon Kenya.

The organisation believes that supporting youth entrepreneurship is the most sustainable way to tackle poverty and create change.

The 22-year-old spent the first week of her trip learning about innovation and entrepreneurship with a mix of classroom-based learning and practical activities.

Taking what she had learnt from the training programme, Alessandra met regularly with her assigned local entrepreneurs - one who wanted to start her own school uniform sewing business, and another who wanted to create a graphic design and printing company.

The following weeks included a mix of teaching business theories, testing, refining and re-testing the innovations with the entrepreneurs.

The end goal of the project was for each entrepreneur to prepare and deliver a funding pitch, with the best ideas receiving funding from Balloon Kenya to develop and grow.

Alessandra, a Sheffield Hallam Business School graduate who now lives in London, spent her time at university studying innovation in business. However, her understanding changed when she put the theory into practice during her trip.

She said: “Working with local start-ups and expanding businesses in Kericho, I learnt that innovation and all its complexities in the modern world is actually a simplistic concept which takes minimal nurturing to uncover.”

Balloon Kenya is a social enterprise organisation that brings graduates from around the world to work in Kenya for six weeks with budding local entrepreneurs.

Alessandra added: “It really was such a memorable trip and I am so very grateful to have been given the opportunity to go.”