The Nike Foundation (co-founders of the Girl Effect) and Unreasonable Group have partnered on an intensive two-week program for entrepreneurs leading wildly innovative startups that are positioned to benefit millions of girls in poverty: we are calling it the “Girl Effect Accelerator.”

The Girl Effect Accelerator launched our inaugural program in November 2014. We connected 10 select ventures with world-class mentors, strategic financing and access to a global network of support. The accelerator aims to rapidly increase the positive impact these ventures already have for girls living in poverty. We also welcomed 3 entrepreneurs in residence to join the program in an effort to help take their efforts to scale.

2 Minute Video

A quick (and important) glimpse into why we believe
we must bet on girls.

The Ventures

The 10 companies who participated in the inaugural Girl Effect Accelerator

An Overview of the Selected Companies

10 Ventures Selected

Operating in 30+ Countries

Averaging $2.2M in Revenue Last Year

Positioned to Impact Millions of Girls


    - Mark Lowcock, DfID Permanent Secretary -

Our Mentors

We are forever grateful to the mentors who participated in the 2014 Girl Effect Accelerator.



Entrepreneurs in Residence

Each of the Entrepreneurs in Residence joined us for a portion of the program. We learned from their experience and as a community, helped to accelerate the growth of their projects.


What is the Girl Effect Accelerator?
The Girl Effect Accelerator represents the first program of its kind: an international accelerator dedicated exclusively to scaling up ventures that are measurably benefiting girls in poverty. Today, less than two cents of every international development dollar goes to girls – the very people who could do most to end poverty. As long as girls remain invisible, the world misses out on a tremendous opportunity for change. We have launched this program to make girls visible to the entrepreneurial, business, and investment worlds.

The Girl Effect Accelerator launched its inaugural program in November 2014 in a location just outside of San Francisco. Throughout the program, we aligned 10 ventures with world-class mentorship, strategic financing, and access to a global network of support. The ultimate aim of the Girl Effect Accelerator is to rapidly scale up the benefit these ventures are can bring to girls in poverty. We are currently evaluating what the next version of the Girl Effect Accelerator is going to look like. We should have a public update by June 2015.
Why are you creating this in the first place?
We believe wholeheartedly in the premise of the Girl Effect (watch this 2 minute video to see why). Today there are over 250 million girls living in poverty. Every year, more than $120Bn is spent in international development assistance, yet this system has yet to produce the game-changing results we all desire for girls and the world. This program is designed to bring new problem solvers to the table: entrepreneurs. The Girl Effect Accelerator will support solutions that are measurably benefiting girls in poverty: market based solutions that are locally driven, aid-independent, financially sustainable, and that have the potential to be scalable globally.

You see this as an experiment. How so?
We are launching the Girl Effect Accelerator as a real-world experiment to better understand the impact that entrepreneurs, investors, and business can bring to girls in poverty. But we recognize this is a first of it’s kind venture – and as such is an experiment.
I get this is an experiment, but why an accelerator?
Through our research and experience, we have come to believe that startups have the potential to drive solutions into the hands of millions of girls around the world. The challenge is that while there are brilliant innovators and entrepreneurs (and many of their models are already working), to achieve greater scale they need investment, mentorship, exposure, and strategic partnerships. This is where the Girl Effect Accelerator comes in.
How are you thinking about investment?
The term “patient capital” has become synonymous with investing across early stage ventures in emerging markets. Although important, we also believe it is critical to make “impatient capital” available to these same companies. To this end we have launched a 500k working capital fund designed to provide capital in the form of a short-term debt to the 10 ventures who participate in the Girl Effect Accelerator. It will play a crucial role in providing the participating ventures with fast acting, low-interest rate, non-collateral tied, and immediately available debt financing. Unreasonable Capital will also be committing to invest into each venture and we are hosting a private investor gathering designed to align our select companies with some of the world’s top performing investment funds and foundations.

I’m an Investor. How do I best engage?
Join us for our private investor gathering on Friday November 14. Click here for more details.
Who is behind this program?
This program is a partnership between the Nike Foundation (co-founders of the Girl Effect) and Unreasonable Group. To connect directly with our team, email our program director at [email protected].
What exactly is the Girl Effect?
The Girl Effect is a movement. It’s about the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world. It’s about getting girls on to the global development stage and driving massive resources to them.
Created by the Nike Foundation, in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls, the Girl Effect is driven by hundreds of thousands of supporters who believe in the potential of 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty. The Girl Effect launched in 2008 with a film that caught the imagination of the world(watch it here).
What exactly is Unreasonable Group?
Unreasonable Group is a portfolio of companies, funds, and experiments. Each entity under the group is designed to leverage entrepreneurship and investment to solve our most difficult and meaningful problem-sets.
To date, Unreasonable has launched a small portfolio of companies: Unreasonable Capital,, Unreasonable Media, and Unreasonable at Sea in addition to working closely with their sister organizations at the Unreasonable Institute, Unreasonable East Africa, and Unreasonable Mexico. The Girl Effect Accelerator is a perfect embodiment of the type of partnership Unreasonable Group is eager to launch, operate, and learn from.
What are the exact dates of the program?
We believe that when it comes to changing the lives of girls in poverty, impatience is a virtue. The first day of the program will be October 31, 2014. The program will then run through November 16 with a culminating event and an investor gathering on November 11 and 12. (Click on these links to read about the details of the Investor Gathering and the Culminating event)
Why girls and not boys?
The Girl Effect exists to help everyone, and everyone includes boys. Better lives for girls means better lives for everyone in their communities – their brothers, fathers, future husbands and sons. When you improve a Girl’s life through education, health, safety and opportunity, these changes have a positive ripple effect. As an educated mother, an active, productive citizen and a prepared employee, she is the most influential force in her community to break the cycle of poverty.

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. And yet 250 million adolescent girls live in poverty and are more likely than boys to be uneducated, to be married at a young age, and to be exposed to HIV/AIDS.

Want the economic facts? Check out the Girl Effect factsheet. Seeking case studies to prove the point? Take a tour – we’ve got them. Looking for the current state of Girl data? Take a look at the gaps on the global data maps.

What are the measurable objectives of the program?
We have designed the Girl Effect Accelerator around a desire to see measurable impact and learning across the 4 core themes below. As a learning organization stepping into a new frontier of entrepreneurship, financing, and development, we are taking a learner’s posture to everything we are doing. Our 4 objectives are:

  1. Increase the flow of investment dollars into solutions that are benefiting girls in poverty.
  2. Accelerate the growth and scale of entrepreneurial solutions that are already in the market.
  3. Spark a conversation around how business, investment, and entrepreneurial solutions can contribute to unleashing the Girl Effect.
  4. See a short term and long term measurable impact on girls in poverty.
How will you measure the impact of the program?
Below are 3 key measurements that we will be tracking over time:

  1. The increase in the flow of investment dollars into the 10 participating ventures.
  2. The growth (or decline) in revenue, costs, team size, customer base, and geographic expansion of each venture on a semi-annual basis.
  3. Each venture will identify the impact they are having for girls in poverty. We will track one metric around their impact on girls on a semi-annual basis to gauge both the breadth and depth of their impact for girls in poverty. (note: because each venture is different, this core metric will be unique to each participating company).
What was your process for selecting the 10 ventures?
We scoured the globe for startups we believe are best positioned to impact the lives of millions of girls in poverty. We were looking for ventures who are already providing a clear and direct benefit to girls or for companies who are positioned to do so and are eager to learn how to best orient their business models around the needs of girls in poverty.

What were the selection criteria you used?
  • For-profit model: Every venture invited into the program is leveraging a for profit business model.
  • Market traction: We wanted to see a majority of selected companies have an annual revenue exceeding $500K in 2013.
  • Highly scalable: We only invited ventures that we believe are setup to scale internationally and benefit girls in multiple countries.
  • Commitment to girls: The leadership of each venture needed to demonstrate to us a clear commitment to fulfilling the Girl Effect vision.
  • Tracking impact: Each invited venture agreed to actively measure their impact on girls living in poverty on a semi-annual basis.
  • Local teams: We only invited ventures where a majority of their team members live and work in the countries they operate.
Beyond basic criteria, what were you looking for?
  • Logical Path to Achieving the Impossible: We invited entrepreneurs who challenge our conceptions of what we thought was possible in terms of impact, scale, business models, and growth. Simultaneously, we looked for a logical and convincing model to enter the market that matched this unguarded ambition.
  • Unrelenting Dedication: We invited ventures whose leadership team demonstrated a clear conviction that they will stop at nothing to ensure they put a positive dent on history. We wanted to be convinced that the problem they are solving is baked into their DNA.
  • Strong Beliefs Held Loosely: Although we were looking for entrepreneurs who are obsessed with the problems they are solving and who are very passionate about their models, approach, and technology, we wanted to also ensure that we only selected entrepreneurs who are willing to admit when they are wrong and who have the humility to be coached and mentored. We selected for a mix of confidence and humility.
  • Dedication to the Girl Effect: Ultimately, the reason this program exists is to drive more resources to millions of Girls in poverty and to help unlock the Girl Effect at scale. To this end, we only invited entrepreneurs who demonstrated an unruly dedication to benefiting Girls in poverty.

What is the programing costing the entrepreneurs?
The entrepreneurs are not being charged to participate in the program, and Nike Foundation and Unreasonable Group are not requiring an equity stake in the ventures. The goal of this program is to bring together a portfolio of ten ventures who are positioned to impact millions of girls in poverty, and help them to deliver more and better for girls at scale. These companies were selected after over 10 months of vetting, they were privately invited, and all of their costs (including airfare) are being covered by the Nike Foundation and Unreasonable Group.
Are you investing in the ventures?
Nike Foundation and Unreasonable Group are supporting the ventures by paying their costs for taking part in the Girl Effect Accelerator. They are investing time and resources to accelerate the participating ventures to better serve and deliver to adolescent girls living in poverty. However Nike Foundation and Unreasonable Group are not taking an equity position in the ventures that are part of the Girl Effect Accelerator as a condition or benefit of participation.
What is the entrepreneurs in residence program?
We have invited three entrepreneurs who are dedicated to changing the lives of girls in poverty to join us as ‘entrepreneurs in residence’. Their businesses are at an earlier stage than those of our portfolio ventures, but they will each bring invaluable knowledge of reaching girls. Each of the entrepreneurs in residence will join us for 5 days of the program. We will learn from their experience and as a community, help to accelerate the growth of their projects and increase the scalability of their business models.
Where is the program located?
We are hosting the gathering a few hours outside of San Francisco, CA. The exact location is private to respect the time and space of those participating in the program.

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