World’s First Accelerator Dedicated to Impacting Millions of Girls in Poverty

Introducing 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 positioned to benefit millions of girls in poverty. Today, less than two cents of every international development dollar goes to girls—the very people who we believe could do most to end poverty. If we don’t put girls at the center of development, the world misses out on a tremendous opportunity for change. So, this past year our team at Unreasonable Group was privileged to partner with the Nike Foundation (co-founders of the Girl Effect) to launch this program in an effort to make girls visible to the entrepreneurial, business, and investment worlds.

If we don’t put girls at the center of development, the world misses out on a tremendous opportunity for change. Tweet This Quote

We launched our inaugural program this November 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. Our ultimate aim was to rapidly scale up the benefit these ventures can bring to girls in poverty. We are going to continue to work with each company on this mission into the years to come.

How we selected the companies

A lot of people ask us how we went about determining which companies should participate in the inaugural program. Unlike other Unreasonable programs where we have an open call for applications, for the Girl Effect Accelerator we scoured the globe and hand picked ventures we were convinced are best positioned to change the game for millions of girls. This was the basic selection criteria we 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. (Ultimately, the average company selected generated $2.2M in revenue 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.

Of course, the best way to introduce you to the companies and how their work is positioned around girls is for them to tell you their stories on their own. To this end, in the proceeding 10 days we will feature a post with a TED-style talk that showcases the leadership of each of the companies and their unique potential to unleash the Girl Effect at scale. I hope you enjoy.

This post is part of a series profiling ventures in first accelerator program dedicated to impacting the lives of millions of girls in poverty. For more information on the program, check out the Girl Effect Accelerator website.

About the author

Daniel Epstein

Daniel Epstein

Daniel has an obsession. He believes to his core in the potential of entrepreneurship to solve the greatest challenges of this century and he has dedicated his life accordingly. Today, he is the founder of the Unreasonable Group, of the Unreasonable Institute and a number of other "Unreasonable" companies.

  • storres001

    I think this is really incredible. They all seem to have made good strides separately and it will be interesting to see how they do together. I’m curious to see how they are going to handle the cultural norms of not putting girls equally in those parts of the world.

  • kgallaher

    I found it interesting that we should not only focus on helping girls, but that we should try to make girls the target market of business. It will empower and grant opportunities for women.

  • Mallory Benham

    Giving the power of possibility to women and making them the target market will not only affect the way that other people view women, but most importantly, it will give women confidence. It will trigger their minds that they matter in the world, regardless of where they are from or what social/economic class they reside in, allowing them to make a difference and succeed.

  • Jack Strader

    I think the idea is absolutely fantastic. I’ve been a huge supporter of women taking power in business for many years and this is a fantastic way to start bringing women into the business world while also empowering them to make drastic and positive changes. My only question, (and maybe I just missed it) is where, geographically, is the starting point for this project? I didn’t seem to catch whether this was an overseas, in the United States, or both. Can I get a little help please?

  • mpierson19

    I really enjoyed the inspirational people that are involved in this experiment. I believe this will be very successful as well as empowering for women all around the world. I think this is a fabulous idea and can’t wait to see a follow up video on the results of the experiment.

  • sadeakindele

    I love this idea of specifically targeting women. It has been proven time and time again that they are the ones who bring their family up with their successes, more so than with men, and are therefore the ones we should turn our attention to in order to uplift a community. What was particularly interesting here was looking at it from what seemed to be strictly a business mindset instead of handout or charity mentality which may be the best avenue because it could help the girls became more self-sufficient; resulting in a prolonged positive impact.

  • Halea McAteer

    I am really excited to learn more about what these companies are doing for women. Making women the focus of a campaign like this is awesome. It is clear that things need to change in our world, and one of the biggest changes that needs to occur is having truly equal opportunity for men and women. There are disadvantages women have in other countries that I had never even thought about before and making women the focus of a movement like this truly could be life altering not only for the women, but men and children as well.

  • karnold001

    I think this is amazing. Not only will this change the lives of girls living in poverty but it will change the lives of women all around the world. I think our culture gets caught up in the idea that sending clothing and donations to these people is helping to solve the problem, but sometimes I think it just adds to it. If we change our mindset and give these girls an education and incorporate them into the business world, they can build lives for themselves. It is a very powerful idea.

  • karnold001, Halea McAteer, storres001, Mallory Benham, kgallaher, Jack Strader, mpierson19, sadeakindele – thanks for your comments!

    If you haven’t seen the 2-minute video about The Girl Effect, you must watch below! (It’s probably my favorite YouTube video of all time =)

    Thanks for sharing your comments!

  • jsims001

    Looking specifically at the selection criteria used to determine the companies for the Girl Effect Accelerator, I was encouraged to see that the ventures will not only be profitable, marketable, and scalable, but also deeply committed to the empowerment of women and bringing about a positive social change on a global basis. While this will bring about numerous opportunities for women in all aspects of business, it will work to eliminate one of the larger global issues facing our world today, the poverty of women and children everywhere. I’m interested to see how/if these companies can really make as significant of a difference as they are hoping to accomplish.

  • Erin Todd

    I loved this small video that you added in on top of the original video. It shows how one girl can take a small thing such as a school uniform and fly. It shows how it starts with just one girl. Just one. Then how it can grow to millions. And that is how change will come. By first changing just one girl’s life.

  • John Mulhern

    Absolutely in agreement with you. “Give a man (or woman in this case) a fish and you will feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” This video proves this concept that teaching far outweighs the benefits of free handouts. By empowering these girls we are building a generation that will help lead their country out of poverty, and change the world.

  • kschwein

    I like the idea of this project to bring young, poverished women to their feet by educating them and giving them the skills that they need to contribute and participate in the business world. This is a good stepping stone to get the ball rolling to lift these women out of poverty and give them the opportunity to be successful in this world today.

  • Gaby Perez

    The Girl Effect Accelerator sounds great. It reminds me of something my professor mentioned in class, “give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach him how to catch fish you feed him for a lifetime.” It’s the same with these girls, if you teach them the skills to enter the business world they will continue to succeed. A really great documentary/film that talks more about these subjects is Girl Rising, I would definitely recommend you watching it.

  • klarson003

    At one point in the video, someone stated that the question is not “What can we do to help girls? But, if girls were our target market, how do we unlock that?”. I think this is a key point, because not only is it socially responsible to empower girls but, in addition, empowering girls is a pragmatic way to reach new target markets and expand and grow a business. This is an amazing program for many reasons.

  • Guest

    This video is great and very informative because it highlights that education is key for these young girls to grow and prosper in life. It’s amazing to see how many great minds are collaborating to find new ways to make these young girls a target market. Education is power, and by educating these young girls we can change their lives for the better. “When you empower a girl, you change a community, you change a country, you change the world.”

  • Katie

    This video is great and very informative because it highlights that education is key for these young girls to grow and prosper in life. It’s amazing to see how many great minds are collaborating to find new ways to make these young girls a target market. Education is power, and by educating these young girls we can change their lives for the better. “When you empower a girl, you change a community, you change a country, you change the world.” I believe that this is a great project that will flourish in the future.

  • kbell003

    I like the idea of this venture not just because it is going work to help to empower girls, but rather because it is bringing different organizations together to empower women. There are so many small non profit organizations who are doing great work in the world but they are too small to really be able to get traction. I think that is there were more summits like this movement then more change could be accomplished because numbers is power. This also helps to contribute donations to a larger pot to make it easier to buy the supplies needed to make the changes necessary in the world to empower the masses.

  • rschneider2800

    I love the saying, “Together we can change the world.” I love this program. Not only did I find this so fantastic because of its commitment to female empowerment but also because this isn’t a “bandaid” on the issue. Previously, there has been a lot of organizations that have given aid instead of education that allows individuals to basically help themselves, which was a very short term solution. These are social entrepreneurs who are working to develop small communities sustainably and ethically, so that communities can build themselves up while keeping their independence. In short, I find this mission to be inspiring and feel that these are people who are changing the world.

  • pcutinelli

    I agree, it seems like a very good model for the business market to help these women, and in doing so, are giving the world of business great models for a strong, loyal work ethic.

  • sadeakindele

    Again, love this idea of uplifting girls! The problem i see here of introducing cows though is that it could have serious environmental repercussions and sway their economy in favor of red meats that may not be traditional to their diets. Is this a concern that has been thought of/accounted for??

  • Matthew Montoya

    I think this is an amazing venture, with an even stronger cause! Often times I hear comments about how business is so often attributed to corruption and a bunch of self centered individuals aiming to make a profit. However this organization, and its processes to make a genuine difference on women, and ultimately the world, demonstrates that the business community can apply the same concepts and strategies that many businesses use for capital gain, to reach beyond a monetary figures and help people make a difference. This is an amazing group and I am excited to follow their progress!

  • Alexander Campbell

    This is eye-opening. I’ve never looked at the problem of impoverished nations from this perspective. These countries are using literally only half of their brain power, {we > I}.

    On a completely different note, it’s interesting to see a problem “solved” i.e. providing solar powered lights to homes, only to uncover even bigger problems. Down the rabbit hole, I guess.

  • kt_ford

    I think these two videos share a very powerful message and they are very eye-opening. I think having an education is a very important thing and girls should have a right to as much education as everyone else. I think that the idea of “When you empower a girl, you change a community, you change a country, you change the world” is something we need to focus on and spread the word. I think this is awesome and would want to know how someone in college could help with this movement.

  • eljefeboulder

    I really like the diversity of leaders that this group has chosen to help move this cause forward. All involved hold a unique and valuable perspective that they will be able to use to move this cause forward. Additionally it is great to see such large and notable companies involved in this.

  • Katie

    Like it says in the video, this is a great group of entrepreneurs that will impact and change the lives of many girls in poverty. I think education and staying in school is one of the most important things for these young girls. Along with this, the importance of these young girls having the same opportunities as the men in their families should be stressed. “We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” I think this is a great group of people that have a strong and beneficial goal in mind.

  • skylar365

    I love this idea of The Girl Effect Accelerator because it
    shows so much potential for gaining ground in the struggle of poverty within
    young girls. What I am so intrigued by, is that these several entrepreneurs and
    their companies are all coming together to reach the same goal, but in many
    different ways. I am a big believer in teams and combining ideas, because as individuals
    we can achieve, but as a group we can conquer. All of these entrepreneurs bring
    something that can assist girls, which in return can “change a community,
    country, and the world.” I would like
    some more knowledge about how this group of entrepreneurs is specifically helping
    girls, or an example of one way they helped a girl.

  • Tessa

    I know that educating girls has the potential to change her entire community. It’s one of the most, if not THE most effective ways to create positive change. I see that you have several companies working on several projects in different communities that will help girls stay in school. I’m curious how these projects were chosen? Was the communities they will affect involved in that process? As a student of social justice issues and solutions, I know that one of the most important ethical ways to assist communities in need to to have the solutions LEAD by those communities.

  • Nlund1

    It’s awesome to see more and more companies looking to help, not just girls, but the countries they live in.

  • tanderson_PAX370

    I’m curious about this also. I think that the entire family unit needs education, not only for the girls, but equally as import to address the cultural mindset that women are inferior to men.

  • ali Alamri

    Great article

  • Caroline

    Together we can change the world… i would love to know how i can be a part of this..

  • jvlewis1

    This sound extremely interesting and I would absolutely love to be apart of this. I looked at a couple videos for this group and the ideas are through the roof. These entrepreneurs change lives of people in Africa and India by doing the smallest things. They really teach that inventions and innovation does not have to be big in order to have a large outcome.

  • Mabel

    This approach that this organization is taking is great! It is implementing different methods for reaching their goals and if that means associating with for-profits. It means that there is the drive to achieve the goal.

  • Beniamin Martis

    20 million is a huge impact, and is great to see the impact they had. I believe the impact will just keep on growing if every generation will do their part in making the world a better place to live in. We can do it if we have the wright mentality and principles of the Bible.

  • l2yza

    Love that you got all of them together, and I’m especially happy to see Sanga there! However, I feel like this could be just as much as a social battle of gender equality. If I’m wrong feel free to correct me, I’m certainly no expert in African culture. It just seems to me that if the men and the boys in the house are not allowing the daughter to use the solar light that speaks on a social status level.

  • Lauren Schlicht

    I think this is such a strong strategy to work with. 20 million is a huge impact! Its so incredibly sad that only 20 cents of every international dollar goes to girls. Making changes and putting these girls in the center of focus is an international challenge and can only be achieved if everyone was to take a stand. One of my favorite things about the Unreasonable Group is how they make use of entrepreneurs’s goals and hopes through the way of TED talks.

  • Lauren Schlicht

    We can only hope that with more publicity the Unreasonable is becomes more of a well known organization. Every article I read about the hopeful and innovative ways these entrepreneurs have give such a well needed opportunity to girls in need. It gives others so much motivation to stand up with the cause, its wonderful!

  • Lauren Schlicht

    Wow, this is a great video! I actually had never seen this one. When I was introduced to the Girl Effect earlier this year I had watched this youtube clip: after watching the clip you posted, I took the time to watch a few others and just have to say how amazing each and every video is…they way they are advertised defiantly has the ability to motivate others to get involved!

  • Lauren Schlicht

    Sharing the concept of the Unreasonable & what The Girl Effect stands for is the the perfect first step! I didn’t even know something like this existed until I was introduced to the concept in one of my college classes my senior year. As soon as I heard about it, I instantly wish I knew about it before hand…getting involved, sharing the story & making a push for schools to intergrade the concept of The Girl Effect are just a few ways to become a helpful part in making a change!

  • DavidMizelle1

    It’s certainly an interesting and different approach to think of girls as a target market of your business as opposed to thinking of them solely as someone who needs your help. Is there anything being done in congruence with these businesses to re-educate and re-teach men in these countries as well? I get the concept of helping girls first and agree with it, but at some point the attitudes of men must change in order to stop the widespread problems such as sexual trafficking that happens in many countries still and keeps women from getting educations. Just food for thought, but I’m excited to see where this venture goes!

  • Thumbs_up

    It is an awesome way to engage people to think and work together. The “camping” brings up the idea of community and of society where everybody has a job and function to help the others. With the “we > I” in mind, we can together change the world.

  • Abby Wilsey

    The Girl Effect Accelerator has really opened my eyes to the kinds of things social entrepreneurs are working towards today. Before seeing this video and taking my social entrepreneurship class I am currently enrolled in, I didn’t believe that problems as big as this could actually be solved and people were working together right now to solve them. This particular project hits especially close to home for me as I am a women but I have been fortunate enough to grow up with access to all the recourses I need to succeed. But I am one of few in the world. In the grand scheme of things, most girls aren’t as lucky as I am and I have known this all my life but wasn’t sure how I could change this fact. The Girl Effect Accelerator has showed me that it is indeed possible for one person to make a difference, just as each one of the entrepreneurs contributing to the project are doing.

    With this said, the project has motivated me to live a life where I am in pursuit of solving some of the worlds issues. I can now truly see how I as one person can make an impact. I would really love to one day develop a tool or product that can be of used by girls in developing countries in order to inspire them or help them gain education. Right now, I am unsure of what I could develop or offer to impoverished girls but there must be many things that they could use to help them reach their potential. Just as in the video, one man developed a movable light that can help girls study at nighttime, something this simple can change how a girl learns and lead her to be a more educated, successful women.