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Home Business What the Spring Accelerator program is all about

What the Spring Accelerator program is all about

by Sam Wakoba
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The SPRING consortium is sponsored by DFID, USAID and NIKE Foundation and aim to give technical and financial support to early stage enterprises developing innovative products and services towards economic empowerment for girls aged 10-19 years, in East Africa.

SPRING’s business accelerator which is open for applications, will give financial planning, world-class mentors, and leading experts in business growth, design, and marketing and a variable grant funding of an average of USD $80,000 per business to support growth and scale.

SPRING says the move aims to enable girls to learn, save, invest and stay safe.

If you want to meet the SPRING team follow them here;

1.      Mombasa – 17th of February – RSVP here

2.      Kisumu 24th of February – RSVP here

3.      Nakuru 26th of February – RSVP  here

4.      Nairobi  3rd and 10th of March – RSVP here

For more information, feel free to reach out to Patricia Jumi, country manager, SPRING – Kenya through her email here.

Here are the things you wanted to know…

Q. What is the Spring Accelerator program all about and for how long will it run?

SPRING is a pioneering business accelerator. It supports early to mid-stage ventures that will improve the lives of girls in poverty, through market-based solutions. Over 250 million girls live in poverty globally – our goal is to enable entrepreneurs to scale their products and services to reach this large untapped market over our five year programme. In doing so, we’ll be delivering life-changing resources and financial opportunities directly to girls in an effort to transform markets, and ultimately to take a step toward ending the cycle of poverty forever.

Q. What is the main objective of the project?

SPRING’s aim is to help early to mid-stage ventures reach 200,000 adolescent girls living in poverty across eight countries during our five year programme. Our ambition is to reach 50 million girls by 2030.

Q. Is it the first of its kind in Kenya and if so, what makes Kenya a great place to have the project?

SPRING is the first of its kind not just in Kenya but across the world. Never before has a business accelerator programme focused specifically on providing economic empowement to girls living in poverty.

Kenya is the perfect location for this exciting venture for many reasons: Nairobi is a regional hub for investors, foundations and corporates, it has a large entreprenurial community and is filled with innovative social enterprises. Kenya is also home to over 5 million girls living in poverty, according to World Bank estimates, who could directly benefit from the SPRING programme.

homepage_header_1440x693_v56Q. What kind of businesses will be targeted by the project and how many will be picked from Kenya alone?

SPRING is seeking the best and the brightest entrepreneurs who are ready to scale their ventures and change the world for girls. We’ll be looking for businesses with products or services that help adolescent girls do one or more of the following: generate income, save time or labour (giving them more time to study or secure employment), accrue savings and assets and feel safe and secure. Girls need to be the existing or potential target market for the business, and we’ll be targeting ventures that have been generating revenue for a minimum of 1 year.

50 finalists will be selected from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda to join us in Nairobi for the selection camp, from this shortlist we will select our final 18 businesses to join the inagural SPRING cohort. Of this selection, there is no fixed applicant quota for each of the regions, we’ll select the best businesses depending on the calibre of the cohort as a whole.

Q. What steps will be taken to shortlist businesses assuming very many will apply.

Our 2015 SPRING finalists will represent the smartest, most scaleable businesses in East Africa. They will have demonstrated their potential and determination to change the world for girls with their products and services. It’s going to be a highly competitive process, with only 50 ventures shortlisted to join us at selection camp stage, and only 18 of those making it through to participate in the inagural SPRING cohort. Ventures will be assessed based on:

  • Viability of business: from financial viability to how well the solution addresses the need
  • Potential for impact: including evidence their product can reach girls in a safe and secure manner
  • Strength of leadership & team: we need to see demonstrated ability to lead and inspire a team and implement the vision

Q. When is the programme scheduled to kick off?

We’re delighted to say that SPRING has now launched. We kicked off in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda in January 2015. Our website is up and running and the application process is open. Information on how to enter is here, and applications for this year’s cohort close on 16 March 2015.

Q. What does the business need to have to qualify for the project?

Businesses need to meet our comprehensive eligibility criteria in order to apply. This includes being able to demonstrate a minimum of 1 year generating revenue from their venture, and clearly showing how their product or service will directly improve the lives of girls in poverty.

Q. What activities will the selected businesses be involved in for the period set for the project?

Successful SPRING entrepreneurs will receive world-class support to strengthen their designs and business models. This includes access to funding and training, accomplished mentors, leading experts in business growth, design, marketing and more. They will be guided from boot camp in Nairobi to investment pitch stage nine months later, securing the tools, knowledge and capital to implement their game-changing solutions along the way.

Q. What is the cost of the whole project?

We’ve pledged up to $80,000 per business to support these ventures.

Q. Are you looking to make any local partnerships for the sake of the project and if yes who and why?

Absolutely. In order for SPRING to be a success we need to work with local organisations and individuals. By gaining local support we can spread the word about SPRING and entice the best and brightest entrepreneurs to apply. A project this ambitious also requires financial investment, so we’re seeking local investors who believe that the right support can propel entreprenures and their ventures to achieve global impact. Together, we can change the lives of girls forever.

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