Killian Stokes took part in the Springboard+ programme in 2015 after returning to Ireland and seeking a career change. Here, he talks about his experience of Springboard+, the course he chose and its benefits, as well as how it has helped him to get where he is today.
“I had been working in the international aid sector for several years but had started to become restless with the sector. As part of my work, I used to travel to quite a lot of countries in Africa, such as Ethiopia, and it was here where my thinking really began to change. During a visit to Ethiopia in 2013, I met a group of entrepreneurial women who had lifted their families out of poverty within 18 months. They had radically changed their lives through their own hard work and without dependency for aid or hand-outs. For me this was a light bulb moment. This was the start of my own journey away from charity and international aid and more towards trade, jobs, profits and shared value.
I returned to Ireland in 2014 and no longer wanted to work in charity but I still wanted to help combat poverty. While between projects and trying to figure out my next steps, I got a letter in the post about the Springboard+ and UCD Innovation Academy’s Postgraduate Certificate in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise course. I was surprised this type of course was being offered through Springboard+, so I got in touch via the number on the letter, had a really productive chat and was in class the following week!
The course itself was fantastic. It enables you to generate new ideas and gives a fresh approach to creative thinking. It showed me that anyone can be innovative and become an entrepreneur. The course ran two days a week so I still had time to work on other projects and ideas.
Things I learned in the course I still use in my everyday life. Like the power of post-it notes for brainstorming (one idea one post it!) and it taught me how to get curious - If the lid on your coffee cup keeps falling off and burning your hand – don’t get angry, instead get curious and then design a better lid! The course also enables you to connect with other entrepreneurs through their graduate network – and in fact, that’s where I met my business partner Shane.
Around the same time of me undertaking the Springboard+ course I connected with Proudly Made in Africa, a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates and promotes ethical trading of African goods. Through them I really started to learn about ‘Shared Value’ and the vast opportunities that exist for resource rich developing countries in Africa, such as Ethiopia, to harness the potential of their own resources and move beyond commodity trading.
Having previously travelled in coffee growing regions of Africa, I often had the opportunity to hike through beautiful mountains and forests and meet local coffee farmers, people who were producing some of the best beans but who were also some of the poorest people on the planet. These experiences, mixed with the insights and learnings I gained through Proudly Made in Africa and Springboard+, led me to set up a small tester project, BeanTribe, a subscription service to deliver African roasted coffees to Irish consumers and as part of this I went coffee hunting in Ethiopia.
There I met a Dutch company called Moyee Coffee that had a roastery set up. I met their coffee farmers, walked the land, saw where the coffee cherries were picked, and the beans washed, dried, delivered, roasted and bagged and I walked out with the finished product – coffee beans that grade in the top 15% in the world!
After this, and having connected with Shane, I used the entrepreneurial energy and skills I had learned through the Springboard+ course to bring Moyee coffee to Ireland and the U.K. Now, 12 months on, we have Moyee coffee in businesses and retail stores throughout Ireland. We supply Moyee Coffee to Groupon in Ireland, Poland and Germany, and we want to continue to take it worldwide!
I can’t recommend Springboard+ enough. It encourages further education, which is vital, and it has helped me to gain new energy and direction. If you’re unhappy in your career or are just looking for something new, I would definitely say to check it out!”.
UCD Innovation Academy - Postgraduate Certificate in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, 2015
Moyee Coffee IrelandBack