Before we delve into all the amazing reasons why the Girl Effect Accelerator is going to make a real change on the continent we need to understand exactly what an ‘accelerator’ is. Similar to a business incubator an accelerator aims to help take start-ups to the next levelin one way or another. Traditionally incubators bring in external management to manage an idea that has already been developed internally over a long period of time and for a quite a bit of equity. While an accelerator takes small amounts of equity in externally developed ideas in return for small amounts of capital and mentorship; this is usually for a much shorter time period compared to an incubator. The Girl Effect Accelerator is an initiative by the Nike Foundation and Unreasonable Group that aims to help 10 start ups increase, or as they put it accelerate, the impact these start ups already have on girls living in poverty. They will do this by providing mentorship with world class professionals, strategic financing and access to a global network of support.  

Kago Kagichiri: Co-Founder and CTO of Eneza Education

Why this initiative is particularly different from the others out there is that it’s main focus is not to produce entrepreneurs who are all about the profit but entrepreneurs who can make a real impact in the lives of adolescent girls. Out of the 10 start-ups my personal favorite is Eneza Education. Their mission is simple -but extremely inspiring- “to make 50 million kids across rural Africa smarter.” As Africa rises one thing that must be taken extremely seriously is education. It is the only safeguard we have to ensure that the Africa rising phenomenon is not hijacked by non-Africans. Additionally according to a United Nations State of the World Population 2007 report 80% of urban growth will occur in Africa and Asia. It’s a logical preventative measure to a potential calamity. If we are going to have more Africans living in African cities compared to rural areas then we are definitely going to need an educated population as well.  

George Kembel: Co-Founder Institute for Design at Stanford University 
The Girl Effect Accelerator is additionally special because of the quality of mentors they are bringing to the table. Again one of my personal favorites George Kembel who co-founded the Institute for Design at Stanford. He’s my favorite not because of his CEO experience or his venture capitalist experience but because he prioritizes learning overexpertise, experimentation over planning and collaboration over individual excellence; all effects that will help push African start-ups to the next level. Over and above the mentors are the in-house entrepreneurs who know better than anyone what these 10 start-ups are going through. They need no introduction Megan White Mukuria founder of ZanaAfrica, Zubaida Bai founder of Ayzh and Khalida Brohi founder of Sughar are all women who have made it and want to help other women make it.

The Girl Effect Accelerator begins November 2014. To read more about the program please go to http://girleffectaccelerator.com/

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