The Nike Foundation and The Unreasonable Group recently announced the selection of seven growing African based ventures out of a global list of ten, to participate in the recently launched The Girl Effect accelerator, the first of its kind which will support high impact entrepreneurs who are committed to providing the tools and resources for adolescent girls living on US$2 or less a day in order to end poverty for themselves, their families, their communities, their countries and the world. The companies selected include:
Paga is the leading mobile payment services operation in Nigeria, an innovative platform that aims to accomplish its mission of enabling the availability of financial services to all Africans through partnerships with select Banks, Microfinance institutions, and all Mobile Network Operators.
Bridge International Academy
The first Bridge International Academy opened in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya in 2009. Since then, they have grown to become the world’s largest chain of primary and pre-primary schools, leveling the playing field for all in the access to quality education. And their scope is not local; Bridge International is working to educate a million children across a dozen countries by 2025.
Leveraging the power of mobile technology, Eneza Education’s aptly named goal is to reach as many children as possible across rural Africa with the provision of tutorial services. The company also provides high potential and high need students with funding and support necessary to attend schools in Kenya.
Soko is an online store that connects artisans from the developing world to global consumers. The store was created by women and for women, to foster equitable and ethical direct trade through an innovative platform that empowers individuals at the bottom of the pyramid to be included in the global market exchange.
Eco Fuel Africa
Eco-Fuel is a locally designed initiative that addresses a problem for populations in rural areas, mostly adolescent girls who often have to travel long distances to gather wood, their main source of cooking fuel. Eco Fuel solves this problem through the conversion of agriculture waste into organic charcoal, which is a much safer alternative to the use of firewood.
Off Grid Electric
Off Grid Electric stands as the world’s premiere solar energy as a service company with the capacity to scale at a substantial rate. Consumers are able to source solar backed power and electricity, while receiving far better services for less than they already spend to light their homes.
The fastest growing mobile money company in Zambia, Zoona offers the benefits of financial inclusion and job creation through a network of over five hundred Zoona entrepreneurs who have the opportunity to earn an income as they provide money transfer and other payment services to low-income consumers. The company currently supports over a thousand local employees, two-thirds of whom are young women.
To foster the spirit of social enterprise, as well as leverage the power of the market to combat poverty, one of many selection criteria included companies who already had solid profit margins. All selected averaged an estimated US$2.2 million in revenue in 2013. The companies will be matched with world class mentors and receive access to financial and social resources that will support each company’s social entrepreneurial mission. At the end of October, each company will come together for two weeks, for an opportunity to share experiences and best practices as well as to pitch their ideas to investors.
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