What is Human Centred Design?

Human-Centred Design is the process of gaining a deep understanding of people to design new solutions. Because the methodology starts with understanding users’ needs, challenges, desires, and behaviours, it is a generative and empathic process—providing substantive, iterative opportunities for business growth and evolution.

SPRING is designed not just by understanding girls and their needs, but businesses and their needs.

As a methodology, HCD typically has 5 steps:
EXPLORE: Perform research. Talk to users. Ask them questions.
SHARE: Categorise what you heard. Find patterns. Synthesise it into a coherent story.
IDENTIFY: Find opportunities for intervention. Create design challenges. Ask “how might we…?”
IMAGINE: Brainstorm solutions. Generate new solutions. Think bigger.
BUILD: Create prototypes. Build products and services. Do it quickly. do it again. It is an ongoing and iterative journey

Is SPRING focused on any specific industries?

SPRING is sector-agnostic, meaning we draw from all industries. SPRING is focused on products and services that will help girls keep safe, learn, earn, and save without harm — so those are the first sectors to have an obvious connection. However, sectors such as transport, nutrition, energy, and even flooring technology (eg. EarthEnable in cohort 1) can all have significant benefits for girls and contribute to these goals. We look forward to learning about the breadth of potential for girl impact across all of our sectors and geographies.

What is SPRING?

SPRING is a pioneering business accelerator that supports ventures whose products and services improve the lives of adolescent girls. A five-year programme, SPRING is funded by DFID, the Nike Foundation, USAID and Australian Department for Foreign Affairs, and focuses on 9 countries in East Africa and South Asia.

Where is SPRING located?

SPRING is locally led and globally supported, with expert representatives in each of the countries we work liaising with global specialists and experts in London, San Francisco and New York. We are headquartered in London. During the cohort, the local teams are supported by global specialists and experts as well as holding events together such as bootcamps (e.g. our first bootcamp for cohort 4 for all South Asia participants and SPRING team is in Nepal).

What do you mean by “economic assets”?

Assets are the building blocks of economic empowerment. An asset can generate income, enhance productivity, facilitate access to capital and credit, and store wealth. It strengthens the owner’s capacity to cope with and respond to shocks by enabling them to diversify income and ease consumption. Assets can also contribute directly to girls’ economic empowerment by saving their time and labour, and enabling them to stay in school. We use “economic assets” and “life-enhancing products and services” in our materials interchangeably.

What is the Girl Effect?

Created by the Nike Foundation, in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation, and Coalition for Adolescent Girls, the Girl Effect is driven by hundreds of thousands of supporters who believe in the potential of 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty. This 2-minute video sums it up.

For more information, visit Girleffect.org

Here you’ll find plenty of data you need to support the case for investing in adolescent girls. You’ll discover case studies to show the Girl Effect in action, toolkits, images, videos, and insights to download and use in your own programmes.

The Accelerator

Is SPRING for women entrepreneurs only?

No. This is not a womens’ entrepreneurship programme, although some of our participants happen to be women business owners or hold senior positions. About 40% of our participants so far are women and almost all of our Cohort 1, 2 and 3 teams were diverse in gender and background. It isn’t even just for entrepreneurs, our participants can be intrapraneurs or intrapraneurial senior management.

What is a prototype?

A business prototype is a business’s proposed solution to a user need – one that involves capturing new market opportunities by applying existing capabilities to develop new products, create new services, and/or serve new markets. We call it a prototype because it needs to be tested.

Is there a programme fee?

There is no programme fee for SPRING.

Do you pay for travel or housing expenses in the selection process or accelerator programme?

We cover in-country or international costs associated with traveling to Bootcamps and provide accommodation and full-board during both Bootcamps for one participant. Businesses must cover the costs involved for a second participant.

How does the mentorship process work?

It is important for us to understand what our participants really need from a mentor and to select their mentor carefully. Mentors may be local or global, long term or short term. The mentors will be selected after consideration by our country leads. As our mentors are senior professionals offering their time at no cost, we will also set out expectations of prompt and clear engagement. Mentor relationships can extend beyond the life of the programme if agreed by mentee and mentor.

How does the investment work, and what are the funding terms?

A core capability of SPRING is to provide investment readiness assessments and improve investor-readiness. The markets in which we operate and the businesses we support vary greatly in their investability and their stages and needs, therefore we will select several businesses for this support during the cohort. We hold an event bringing together investment-ready businesses with investors who are interested in our target geographies during the accelerator. SPRING does not take any equity or provide any growth capital directly: the only funds available are for prototype development.

What’s happening during Bootcamp?

Lots of hard work, and lots of fun: immersion in modules such as Human-Centred Design theory and practice, examining every area of the business, understanding stakeholders, investment readiness (as appropriate) and critically, understanding girls and their needs.


I am interested in investing in a portfolio business. How do I invest?

We send out on-going updates about the businesses in our accelerator to accredited angel investors and venture capitalists. It’s an easy way for the investment community to stay connected with the opportunities within SPRING. If this interests you, just contact us again and we’ll make the connection.

Who’s an ideal SPRING investor? What type of investments do you support?

SPRING investors espouse a long-term, patient-capital point of view with equal concern for social impact and financial sustainability. Ideal investors run the gamut from impact venture funds to angels to corporate investors who see opportunities for innovation in our purposeful businesses.

Does SPRING take equity in its businesses?

No, we don’t take equity stakes in any of the ventures in the accelerator programme.

Why are most of your businesses early- to mid-stage ventures?

Companies with successful products and services in hard-to-reach populations can take many years to develop the right offering at the right price with the right approach. Ventures now up and running with some learning are more likely to help us reach our goal of impacting 200,000 girls by 2019. Ventures with have a strong foundation, but that are still open to new opportunities and can be flexible and move fast, benefit greatly from prototyping new products and new business approaches.

Get Involved

How do I support SPRING in contributing money or time?

We have a commitment to attract additional funding and value-added support for the benefit of the programme and its goals. If you want to make a contribution, please be aware that SPRING is not a registered charity. If you want to donate services in-kind, please contact us info@springaccelerator.org.
We are also in the look out for world-class mentors based on the specific needs of our companies. If you believe you have the skills and passion that can accelerate our businesses, contact us info@springaccelerator.org with subject “Mentor enquiry”.

I still have questions, who should I talk to?

We’re happy to answer any of your questions! Please contact info@springaccelerator.org