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VANITY FAIR: Palladium's SPRING Accelerator is backing African business to unleash the power of girls

Palladium’s Sachin Gupta presenting at the recent SPRING boot camp in Nairobi

“There’s a new wave of people that want to achieve some really interesting social impact, but that recognise that doing that through specific projects tends to have a limited shelf life…actually there are some really interesting business models that are creating standalone entities and businesses that are creating huge social impact”.
Sachin Gupta, Director of Economic Growth at Palladium

The SPRING Accelerator is designed to support cutting-edge enterprises and entrepreneurs whose focus is on releasing the huge potential of adolescent girls. SPRING acts as a business incubator and is driving product innovations to improve the lives of girls living in poverty. The initiative is managed by Palladium and supported by the UK’s Department for International Development, the Nike Foundation and USAID.

The initiative transforms the lives of adolescent girls by creating sustainable markets for life-enhancing products and services. These products and services help girls keep safe, learn, earn, and save without harm. Practically, SPRING identifies ventures with products that can improve the lives of girls and provides finance, world-class mentors, and leading expertise in business growth, design, innovation, and marketing to help drive their business models forward.

SPRING recently brought together 18 start-ups for a two week business planning boot camp in Nairobi and the team welcomed Vanity Fair to take a look at the accelerator’s pioneering approach to sustainable development. Rebecca Calder, SPRING’s Technical Director, was clear that the private sector has not traditionally played the role it can:

“Girls are pretty invisible when it comes to business. That’s a big mistake…They’re givers. They’ll re-invest in your business and in their own communities and in their families. And given the chance they’ll re-invest in themselves. There’s huge potential and it’s not tapped.”

One such start-up is AfricAqua; an initiative to distribute safe water through girl-run student clubs in schools across Kenya. Read more about AfricAqua and the accelerator’s positive impact and watch entrepreneurs and team members discuss the power of SPRING.

By 2019 SPRING aims to reach 200,000 girls in 8 countries. We believe the impact of the successful entrepreneurs and the investment they stimulate will lead to a broader shift in markets that enable girls and their communities to end the cycle of poverty. The ambition is to deliver life-enhancing products and services to 50 million girls by 2030, through direct business acceleration and secondary stimulation of investment beyond SPRING enterprises.

Palladium’s Sachin Gupta (front row, second from left) with the boot camp attendees and mentors