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Video: The World’s First Accelerator Dedicated to Lifting Girls Out of Poverty


Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Unreasonable.is.

By Daniel Epstein

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 2 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.

We launched our inaugural program this in 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 $500,000 in 2013. (Ultimately, the average company selected generated $2.2 million in revenue in 2013)

  • Highly scalable: We only invited ventures that we believe are set up 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.

For more information on the accelerator, check out the video below.

And check out Unreasonable.is over the next 10 days for 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.

Inaugural Girl Effect Accelerator Video from Unreasonable Media on Vimeo.

Image of Ethiopian schoolgirls: Jessica Lea/Department for International Development via Flickr

Daniel Epstein is founder and CEO of Unreasonable.is.

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