Press release

UK invites entrepreneurs to unlock economic power of girls in developing world

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The UK is working with entrepreneurs in developing countries to fast track early stage business ventures to help hundreds of thousands of girls in the world’s poorest countries maximise their potential through work and education, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced today.

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The innovative £18m programme, run in partnership with the Nike Foundation and USAID, will enable businesses to reach 200,000 girls living in poverty with products and services that help them to learn, earn and save.

Successful grantees will receive financial support, access to world-class mentors and leading experts in business creation, design, marketing, legal support and finance to help build and grow their businesses.

Examples of the type of products that could help girls under the new SPRING programme include:

  • Income-generating products: solar powered mobile charging power blocks, solar powered cooler bags for beverage sales & distribution;
  • Time and labour-saving products, giving girls time to earn/stay in school/return to school for future employment: low-cost solar lamps, foot-powered washing machines, low-cost bicycles, sanitary products;
  • Financial products: innovative savings/remittance products (mobile money), micro-leasing, micro-insurance.

Justine Greening said: “Giving girls and women the chance to improve their own livelihoods is crucial to end poverty for good. If girls are locked out of education or work or face violence their potential goes unfulfilled.

“By unleashing the economic power of girls, we can stop their children falling into poverty. Businesses have a key role to play by using their skills and expertise to provide vital products and services which are key to building prosperous societies.”

Howard Taylor, Managing Director of The Nike Foundation, said: “We are really excited to be partnering with DFID and USAID in the launch of SPRING.

“It is a great opportunity to demonstrate the power of collaboration between the private sector and international development community to create sustainable solutions for the world’s biggest problems. SPRING is a fantastic effort to get life-enhancing products in to the hands of girls a lot faster and at scale.”

The aim of the programme is to reach 50 million girls by 2030 with products that will improve and change the way they live.

The launch for the first call for applications from entrepreneurs will be early next year and work with successful grantees will follow in the spring.

The programme will begin work in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, and there are plans to expand to Tanzania, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal in later years.

Published 9 October 2014