University of Northampton students get ready to change lives in Africa and the Philippines

Date 28.04.2016

Seven students from the University of Northampton are getting ready to change lives this summer, when they embark on the Balloon Ventures volunteering programme.

The six-week project, delivered by Balloon Ventures in partnership with the University of Northampton Students’ Union provides an opportunity for students to visit developing countries to help local communities to devise, develop and launch new businesses that improve their community wellbeing as a whole. This year, our students are heading off to Kenya, Ghana and the Philippines.

This unique experience helps students to develop their entrepreneurial skills. The students who take part will learn how to be more creative and innovative, while tackling social issues and helping to change lives in developing countries.

Stephanie Nixon, who is studying the first year of LLM International Criminal Law and Security programme, will be heading to Keyna in August. She explained: “Balloon Ventures offers students a once in a life-time experience to go out and make a difference to the lives of the people in different African countries, as well as developing their entrepreneurial, leadership and teamworking skills.”

“I am overwhelmed to have been offered a place, as it will be my first ever flight (yes, you read that right) to another country, and is the perfect opportunity to go out, explore and experience a different culture, and set up a sustainable enterprise that will further improve the lives of others.”

Thanks to the continued commitment of Santander and the Centre for Employability and Engagement, the University is able to sponsor the cost of all participants by paying the full cost of the programme, with students only needing to cover the cost of flights and any spending money they wish to take.

Wray Irwin, Head of the University Centre for Employability and Engagement, commented: “The Balloon Kenya experience is a unique opportunity for our students to develop new skills and improve their employability. We are incredibly grateful to Santander whose sponsorship of this year’s programme has ensured that we can offer more students this opportunity.”

Seven University of Northampton students are taking part this year. Brian Waweru, Rosalie Tshimanga and Stephanie Nixon are off to Kenya, Kimberley Nguyen and Mohammed Alkhafajiy will be heading to the Phillipines, and Alysha Burrell and Miguel Pascual Acheson will be working in Ghana.

Those who took part in previous years have said that Balloon Kenya was a life changing experience. The impact on their lives and their future careers has been considerable, and the impact on the lives of the people they worked with has been long-term and transformative.

Katie Kericho went to Kenya with the project in 2014, when she was in the third year of her Fashion Marketing degree. She explained: “It gave me the confidence to try something new, on a continent I had never been to before and with unique living conditions. Everything I gained has become a transferable skill, whether this be the confidence to stand up and speak in a meeting, put forward a new idea to senior management, or communicate with people in all areas of the workplace. It was one of the best and most valuable experiences of my life.”

You can read more information of what the experience entails at

Pictured: Our Balloon Ventures participants for 2016, left to right -Mohammed Alkhafajiy, Stephanie Nixon, Rosalie Tshimanga, Brian Waweru, Miguel Pascual Acheson, Kimberly Nquyen and Alysha Burrell.