Female-only YHER Accelerator to offer participants two prizes of $20 000 each

Australian accelerator Spark* has opened applications for YHER , a week-long Johannesburg-based acceleration programme aimed at female entrepreneurs in Africa which it aims to launch in November.

The first cohort of 15 female founders of early-stage startups from across the continent will take participate in the accelerator programme which will take place between 11 and 17 November in Johannesburg. Two prizes, each of $25 000 Australian dollars ($20 000), will be awarded to participants during the programme.

To qualify interested applicants must be running an early-stage startup and be developing solutions that improve the lives of women and girls living in poverty, and must have gained traction and proof of concept.

Applicants must have a business that has been operating for no more than two years and must have at least one female co-founder who can participate in the programme.

The deadline for applications to the programme is 22 September.

The application deadline for YHER Accelerator is 22 September, two winners will each get zero-equity prizes of $20 000

YHER programme director Katleho Tsoku told Ventureburn that 15 finalists will pitch to each other. Thereafter they will vote for the best entrepreneur in a peer review after which one finalist will get 25 000 Australian dollars.

A further 25 000 Australian dollar prize will be awarded at the end of the programme when the 15 participants pitch to investors and funders at an exclusive invite-only high-tea event. The winner will be chosen from an audience vote. Former South African first lady Zanele Mbeki, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the event.

Tsoku said the aim of the programme is to help the entrepreneurs unpack their business models and train them to be able to communicate these to potential investors.

The programme will be facilitated by mentors from around the world with representatives form Spark* International Australia, Kenya and guest mentors from Silicon Valley taking part.

“It will be an intense programme starting at nine in the morning and probably finishing late at night. The programme will include financial modelling, planning, sales and marketing. We will look at whether an entrepreneur has identified a clear problem and help you find a clear solution that is not only sustainable but with potential to scale,” said Tsoku.

Participants will also benefit from a virtual community from which they can expect mastermind sessions and knowledge sharing.

In addition, at the end of the programme entrepreneurs identified to have investment-ready ideas will be selected for Spark*’s Growth support programme where they will get one-on-one mentorship and access to grant or investment funding of between 10 000 and 50 000 Australian dollars.

Palesa Mabidilala, Spark* South Africa country director, said 280 candidates had already applied to join the accelerator.

Mabidilala said YHER is unique in that it tries to unpack the vision why entrepreneurs are doing what they are doing by helping them clarify what it is they are trying to do.

“We focus on making sure entrepreneurs understand the problem they are tackling and see if the vehicle matches the problem,” she said.

She urged entrepreneurs to have at least piloted their ideas and seen some impact on the ground before considering applying for the programme. “It must be social and impact poor people, in this case women and girls.”

Featured image: WOCinTech Chat via Flickr (CC 2.0 BY-SA, resized)

Daniel Mpala


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