The Girl Effect Accelerator: Startups and mentors partner for positive change

Educated girls reinvest 90 percent of their incomes in the futures of their families, compared with 35 percent for educated boys. (© AP images)

250 million adolescent girls live in poverty. Governments can help, but lifting so many to a better life will require the jobs and opportunities that entrepreneurs can provide.

The Nike Foundation and the Unreasonable Group are helping young female entrepreneurs do just that. They’ve joined forces to launch the Girl Effect Accelerator,  a short-term program to mentor those budding entrepreneurs and help them present their ideas to potential investors.

“Entrepreneurs are notorious for refusing to accept the status quo,” says Unreasonable Group founder Daniel Epstein. “I can’t imagine a status quo worth rejecting more than one that ensures 250 million adolescent girls remain limited by their circumstances.”

Why invest in adolescent girls? Because when girls succeed, the world succeeds:

“Across emerging markets, it has been shown that an educated girl will reinvest 90 percent of her future income in her family, compared with 35 percent for a boy,” Epstein says.

The 10 ventures selected for the accelerator must be committed to the Girl Effect vision, be a for-profit enterprise and able to operate in multiple countries. “The ultimate aim…is to rapidly scale up the benefit these ventures can bring to girls in poverty,” Epstein said.

Representatives of 10 African- and Indian-based startups will strategize with 20 leading mentors in California starting October 31. The final presentation will take place on November 11 in San Francisco at a TED-style event.