18 East African entrepreneurs selected for unique business accelerator to take their products and services to girls

26 June 2015: Eighteen of East Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs whose products or services could transform the lives of adolescent girls have been selected from over 250 applicants to join the inaugural 2015 SPRING Accelerator cohort.

Launched in January, SPRING is the first business accelerator focused on supporting the economic empowerment of adolescent girls in developing countries through early-stage business ventures. The pioneering programme gives entrepreneurs tailored support to scale their products and services which could improve the lives of girls. SPRING is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, the Nike Foundation and USAID.

The 18 entrepreneurs have all developed innovative business solutions to the issues facing adolescent girls living in poverty – including being able to learn, earn and save without harm. Examples include Sanivation: an organisation that provides hygienic sanitation, collects the waste and transforms it into a low-cost fuel briquette, Jibu: who equip African entrepreneurs to provide affordable drinking water franchises, and Totohealth: who send personalised SMS messages containing advice on health issues.

View the full list of the final 18 SPRING businesses here.

With their position in the SPRING cohort confirmed, the entrepreneurs will begin two weeks of immersive training at a ‘Boot Camp’ in Nairobi to identify challenges, opportunities, and plans for success. They will then embark on a nine-month programme with access to world-class mentors, advisors, business networks and funding to help scale their products or services.

Roo Rogers, member of the SPRING consortium and Partner at fuseproject said:

“This is an innovative pilot in market driven social change. We’ve spent months identifying businesses which offer products or services that could transform the lives of girls. Now, with the final 18 businesses selected, we can start implementing our revolutionary human-centred design programme and working to build and scale these organisations to start reaching girls”.

A 2015 SPRING cohort member said:

“Being selected is huge for us. It’s a really exciting opportunity to expand our target market and focus on girls as a consumer with SPRING’s support.”

Notes to Editors

SPRING was launched by Nike Foundation, DFID and USAID based on research that shows that girls, when economically empowered, have a unique ability to transform lives and even end the cycle of intergenerational poverty. An estimated 250 million adolescent girls live in poverty worldwide, unable to build assets or safely raise the income needed for a more prosperous life. SPRING identifies and supports ventures that can bring life-enhancing products and services to this huge population.

A five year programme, our mission is to enable ventures to reach 200,000 girls with products and services that enhance their economic empowerment by 2019, with the ultimate goal of empowering our businesses to reach 50 million girls by 2030.

SPRING begun in May with Selection Camp for 50 shortlisted entrepreneurs who were invited to pitch to the SPRING judging panel. Following deliberation, the final 18 businesses were selected and invited to join the 2015 SPRING cohort. The programme kicks off with a two week intensive Boot Camp with the team of world-class advisors and mentors to strategise how to scale each business. Eight weeks of prototyping follow and then Pitch Camp – an opportunity for entrepreneurs to report back on findings and progress. Finally each business goes through six months of implementation with support from the SPRING team before entrepreneurs return to Nairobi to pitch their investment-ready products and services to global investors and business leaders and start reaching more girls.

For more information please contact Harriet Constable, SPRING Communications Manager: harriet@springaccelerator.org