One of the most common questions we get from entrepreneurs is why we’ve chosen to focus the SPRING Accelerator exclusively on adolescent girls who are living in poverty.
Entrepreneurs understand the general business case for base of the pyramid (BoP) consumers, who represent a global market of nearly $5 trillion. They also understand that BoP girls are unable to safely accrue assets or raise the income needed for a more prosperous life. They might even know that when we include girls in education, health and economic investment we have a better chance of breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty. That’s because when girls are empowered, families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves, and incomes increase.
But as for building sustainable businesses around the delivery of these products and services to poor adolescent girls, many entrepreneurs are yet to be convinced.
Granted, there are big challenges for girls around the world, but we believe that ruling out adolescent BoP girls as viable consumers is a mistake. There are nearly 11 million BoP girls in Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda alone. Most of them live at home and contribute to domestic duties, yes, but unlike previous generations the majority of them can read and write, which increases their understanding of the world and their influence on purchasing decisions. Some 40 percent of women and girls age 15 and older in Kenya have bank accounts, and more than 60 percent of the Adult Kenyan population (15+) has used mobile money*. They’re more financially savvy than ever before.
Fine, you say, but are girls really going to make active consumers of products beyond necessities like food and health care for their children?
Absolutely. Consider that in Kenya 75% of households are rural, 63% use wood as a source of heat, and almost half have to walk more than 15 minutes to get water. And yet 30% have a TV, 75% have a radio, 30% have a bicycle, and more than 60% have a mobile phone. There’s clearly an appetite among all BoP consumers to save and pay for expensive assets. Girls make up a proportion of these consumers, and our data shows that they are willing to wait, save and make tradeoffs to purchase aspirational products.
Selling to BoP girls might be tough, but we have the opportunity to get it right. SPRING’s mentors, advisers, and country managers are some of the foremost experts on the girl market. They’re pros at designing world-class products and at accelerating businesses and buffering them against risk. Most of all, they’re fiercely passionate about helping entrepreneurs reach scale with products that are tailored to real girls’ needs.
In the design of the SPRING Accelerator, we’ve collected a plethora of insights on BoP girls, much of this from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, which gives us huge confidence that we’re on to a winner with SPRING, and that the businesses we support have every chance of success. We’ve got further research underway to illuminate the girl market and keys for success therein. We will continue to share that research on this blog and with our entrepreneurs.
In the meantime, come and find out more about what a monumentally awesome idea unleashing the potential of the girl could be for your organization, and indeed, for the world.
New accelerator SPRING is now accepting applications from businesses improving the lives of adolescent girls living in poverty.
More than 250 million girls live in poverty. But it’s not just a social problem. It’s a market one. Girls need products and services that help them learn, work and save. When they can do those things without risk or harm, everything changes. For every year of schooling a girl completes, her ability to earn exponentially increases. It’s been shown that she’s likely to reinvest 90% of that rising income into her family, compared to 35% for boys. Her family grows up healthier. Her children go to school. Agricultural productivity improves. And the cycle of poverty ends forever.
Watch the SPRING video (https://vimeo.com/119552076) to learn how business can impact the lives of girls.
SPRING Accelerator is excited to announce that the application for 2015 is now open. SPRING is a pioneering accelerator looking for businesses with products or services that benefit the lives of girls. It’s a market meets social change model that revolutionizes the idea of industry, giving your business the chance to innovate and succeed in ways you never imagined before—and to forever improve the lives of girls.
Sponsored by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Nike Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), SPRING will help chosen businesses further develop and market their girl-forward products through grants of up to US$80,000, workshops and mentorships.
If your business has made sales in the past year; have or will have operations in Rwanda, Kenya or Uganda by June 2015; and target girls ages 10 to 19 as customers, beneficiaries, or target market, apply for SPRING!
Deadlines for application is March 16, 2016. Apply now at https://www.springaccelerator.org.