Good news to all of our entrepreneurs out there. Applications are now open for the 2019 She Leads Africa ( SLA) Accelerator, a business and mentorship program for early stage businesses.
For the 6th year in a row, you can have the opportunity to build your strategy skills, develop a network of other ambitious entrepreneurs and compete for funding for your business.
The SLA Accelerator is a 3-month program designed to identify, support and fund the next generation of Nigeria’s brightest female entrepreneurs. The winner of the programme will receive a N2 million funding grant from SLA.
This year, the programme is a digital accelerator and is open to businesses based anywhere in Nigeria.
When do applications close?
Applications will be open until June 2, 2019 at 11:59 pm WAT. Any late applications will not be considered regardless of the circumstances.
Who is eligible to apply? Your business must fulfill all of the following criteria…
- Based in Nigeria
- Has at least one female shareholder or owner that is aged 18-35
- Has received less than $50,000 in funding
- Has been in operation for less than three years
- Has already begun operations and has a live product or service on the market
Unfortunately entrepreneurs in the idea stage are not eligible to apply
Do I need to be Nigerian to apply?
You do not need to be Nigerian to apply but your business needs to be based in Nigeria, and you must be in the country for the duration of the program.
Are foundations, nonprofits or NGOs eligible?
The Accelerator program does not support or provide grants to nonprofits, NGOs or foundations. Businesses with a social mission or CSR programs integrated into their businesses are eligible.
Is there a fee to participate?
There is no fee to apply or participate in the Accelerator program. Transport fares and accommodation fees for participants outside of Lagos will be covered by SLA.
Can I apply even if I applied for the SLA Accelerator in a previous year?
Previous applicants are eligible to apply but must demonstrate growth and integration of any previous feedback received since the last application.
If I have two businesses can I apply with both?
We only allow one application per person, so please submit your strongest business.
If my business has two female cofounders should we both apply separately?
Only one application per business is accepted, regardless of the number of female co-founders.
Can I apply even if my business is not registered?
Yes. We realise that most early stage businesses (0-3 years old) are yet to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Can I apply if I will be less than 18 years old by August 2019?
No, only those who have turned 18 by July 1, 2019, are eligible.
If I became 36 years old on December 30, 2018, or will become 36 years old in July 2019, am I eligible?
No, only those who are still 35 years old on July 1, 2019, are eligible to apply.
Is my company eligible if I founded it with a man?
Yes, your company is eligible.
Do I have to be a member of the SLA community to apply?
Yes. You can easily be a part of the SLA community by joining here.
Must I attend the info sessions to apply?
Info sessions are optional, however attending will give you an opportunity to receive answers to the questions you might have about the Accelerator program and learn useful tips that will strengthen your application.
How do I know that my application has been received?
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, only semi-finalists will be notified.
Can I submit my application in another language?
At this time we are only able to accept applications in English.
What do I need for my application?
- Complete the online form HERE
- Submit a 1-minute pitch video (optional)
- Submit a pitch deck
How do I submit the online form?
What should be in the pitch video?
We want to learn more about you and give you a chance to express why your business is unique and interesting. The video does not need to be professional, you can take it on your phone or from your computer, but please ensure the video is audible.
What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a brief presentation, typically created using PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi, that tells the story of your business in a simple but compelling way.
Does my pitch deck need to be designed by a professional?
Your pitch deck does not need professional expertise, but it should be easy to understand. Use a balance of diagrams/graphics, visuals and text to tell your story.
How long should my pitch deck be?
Your pitch deck should not be longer than 10-15 slides.
What exactly should be in a pitch deck?
- Your vision: What do you do? How do you do it? Why do you do it?
- The problem: Tell a personal story that defines the problem that your product solves. What does your product do? Why does the market care?
- The solution: Discuss why your product is the solution and what sets it apart from anything else in the marketplace.
- Your track record: Share growth statistics, including notable client wins, milestones met to date and total number of customers.
- Your business model: Detail how you plan to make money. Keep it simple and be specific.
- The growth plan: Show how you plan to grow by leaps and bounds and how you will position your product for market dominance. Use sales and growth data (real and projected) to show why your startup is like a coiled spring ready to pop.
- Your team: Talk about your top-notch team and why they’re uniquely positioned to address the problem your product solves while building a large, disruptive business.
- Your investment needs: Expand on what you need in detail. How much money do you want to raise? How exactly will you use it? If you’ve already raised some capital or have notable investors and advisors, explain who invested, what they invested (money, time, advice), why they got on board, and how you’re using their money (or expertise).
Where can I find sample pitch decks?
- Download our guide on how to make a pitch deck that brings in the cash
Where can I find help in putting my pitch deck together?
We’ll be hosting in-person information sessions in Lagos and Abuja. Make sure you’re signed up to our community so you’re notified about these sessions.
However here are a couple of SLA resources you should definitely use
- Download our guide on how to make a pitch deck that brings in the cash
- Check out our video on YouTube on our application pet peeves
- Check out some articles we have on SheLeadsAfrica.org that cover pitching such as Four things you must have to be pitch perfect
How do I submit my pitch deck?
Pitch decks must be uploaded to your VC4A profile in order for your application to be complete. Do not send it via email to She Leads Africa. Find out how to do so here.
Will I be able to change my application once it has been submitted?
Once an application is submitted it is final, and we will not be able to facilitate any changes to the application.
What do I do if the application system is not working?
Please refresh the page or try a new browser. If this does not work, send a message to VC4A on Twitter or Facebook to request for help. It is advisable to apply at least a week before the deadline, so that you do not have to deal with latency or technical issues.
When will applicants find out if they’ve been selected as a semi-finalist?
Semi finalists will be notified of their status by July 30, 2019.
Will applicants receive personal feedback about their application?
Unfortunately, due to the number of applications we receive, we will not be able to provide personalised feedback on your application.
How are the semi-finalists and finalists selected?
Our review committee will be evaluating applications against several critical factors:
- Proof of Concept
- Clear problem, which the candidate is hoping to solve
- Well-defined solution
- Pathway to monetizing the proposed solution
- Understanding of Competitive Landscape
- Candidates should be able to describe competitive landscape comprehensively
- Candidates should be able to identify risks and propose mitigants for risks identified
- Management Team
- Assessment of personnel capabilities
- Strengths of the team align with startup needs
- Clear understanding of how this business will make money and the key value drivers
- Specific investment ask and a plan for how they will utilise the funds
- Reasonable investment ask for their stage of business
- Clear understanding of their customer demand
- Clear identification of their sales pipeline
When and where will the residencies be?
This is a virtual accelerator all trainings will be conducted online. Details of any in person meetings will be sent to you if you are accepted into the programme.
Am I allowed to miss parts of the trainings?
No, the trainings are mandatory for every company in the program.
Is the N 2,000,000 prize a grant or investment?
The N2,000,000 awarded to the winner will be a grant and will be made in Naira. This is the monetary support the winner will receive from SLA.
In addition to the chance to win cash prizes, what are the other benefits of being accepted into the SLA Accelerator?
Acceptance into the SLA Accelerator will provide you with access to support from She Leads Africa.
This support includes:
- Media promotions – we are often contacted by local and international media who are looking to interview female entrepreneurs. You’ll always be put forward first.
- Promotion through SLA’s online community.
- Access to SLA’s network of supporters, influencers and advisors.