Lagos, Nigeria − October 2014 − Paga, Nigeria's leading mobile payments service has been selected to participate in the Girl Effect Accelerator, the world's first global accelerator dedicated to benefiting girls in poverty. The program is being launched as a partnership between The Nike Foundation and Unreasonable Group. Beginning on October 31st, just outside of San Francisco, this exclusive 2−week program will bring together 10 companies from across the world positioned to impact the lives of millions of adolescent girls living in poverty with world−class mentors, strategic financing, and access to a global network of support.
" Today, less than two cents of every international development dollar goes to girls − the very people who could do most to end poverty, " says Shaifali Puri, Executive Director of Global Innovation at the Nike Foundation. "As long as girls remain invisible, the world misses out on a tremendous opportunity for change."
During the program, representatives from Paga and the other selected companies will be meeting with 20 renowned mentors including Jessica Jackley, co−founder of Kiva.org, George Kembel, founder of the Stanford d.school, Seth Godin, serial entrepreneur and author, and Paul Polak who has uplifted over 20 million people from poverty.
Daniel Epstein, who is directing the Girl Effect Accelerator and the founder of the Unreasonable Institute and Unreasonable Group said:
" We aren't working with your typical Silicon Valley start−up in this program. The 10 selected ventures currently operate in over 30 countries and averaged over $2 million in revenue last year off of customers living on less than $2 a day. We are hedging our bets on true "black swans:" start−ups who have significant market traction, are working in the fastest emerging markets of our time, and are positioned to measurably benefit millions of girls in poverty. The team at Paga is exactly the type of venture we are privileged to be working with.”
Paga which was founded in 2009, with the mission of transforming lives via innovative and universal access to finance has been expanding its service line to help bridge the gap between women, financial access, commerce and economic development. The recent launch of Paga for Business − A suite of products designed to give this and the next generation of entrepreneurs, irrespective of gender or capital the tools they need to start and manage a successful business is just one of the many ways the company is helping to address the traditional male bias and give female entrepreneurs a level playing field.
Epstein went on to add... "Paga serves as a prime example of a venture that is solving problems we didn't think were solvable, in markets most don't yet consider to be markets, with technologies we didn't know existed – profitably. Each of these selected companies shares a common eagerness to experiment in what it means to measurably benefit millions of girls in poverty."
Commenting on being selected to be part of the accelerator, Paga Founder & CEO, Tayo Oviosu said
" Growing up in a single parent family where my mother was our superhero, I recognise only too clearly the societal pressures of tradition and discrimination that women face in trying to live up to their full potential. Women are the bedrock of our society; and investing in them from an early age is the key to our economic progress. We are humbled and extremely excited to be chosen from so many to be part of this global initiative for change. We look forward to gaining key insights from the accelerator and working with the Unreasonable Group to better equip the next generation of African women.”
Research currently shows female entrepreneurship to be higher in Africa than in any other region of the world. In Nigeria alone, over 85% of SME's are owned by women; and it is estimated that providing women with access to the right tools can add $13.9 billion to our economy annually.
Daniel Oparison, Head of Growth and Consumer Business at Paga ; who will be attending the program in California added
"We applaud the efforts of the Nike Foundation and the Unusual Group in identifying and bringing together all these diverse ventures to help address the key issues facing the girl child. Paga exists to transform lives and we welcome any opportunity that enhances our ability to do that, not just for girls but for every single Nigerian."
The accelerator will conclude with a Culminating Event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on November 11th.
Note to Editors:
About Paga − www.mypaga.com
Paga was founded in early 2009 with a mission to deliver innovative and universal access to financial services in Africa. Paga received its provincial licence to operate from the Central Bank of Nigeria in November 2010 and full operating license in August 2011. Paga is underpinned by a secure payments platform that is built with the flexibility to operate in any environment and on the most basic mobile phone. To maximise the network effects critical for the long−term success of our service, Paga has taken a multi−stakeholder approach and is partnering with select banks and microfinance institutions. Paga works on all mobile networks. Customers can use Paga via multiple channels – SMS, Online, application on the phone, and our nationwide agent network. Businesses can use Paga online to collect payments and to pay anyone. The company has gone to great lengths to balance simplicity and security of its platform.
Contact: Moradeyo Adewusi − firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Girl Effect
The Girl Effect is a movement focused on the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves, their families, their communities, their countries and the world. Created by the Nike Foundation, in collaboration with theNoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls, The Girl Effect is fuelled by hundreds of thousands of girl champions who recognize the untapped potential of adolescent girls living in poverty.
About Unreasonable Group
The vision behind Unreasonable Group found its roots at the Unreasonable Institute, an international accelerator for early stage entrepreneurs who leverage business to tackle major social and environmental challenges that Daniel Epstein founded in the summer of 2010. Epstein later founded The Unreasonable Group with the goal of launching a portfolio of companies that will together support the next generation of entrepreneurs aimed at leveraging profit to tackle seemingly intractable social and environmental problems.
About Nike Foundation
The Nike Foundation leverages the power of insights, innovation and inspiration to stop the cycle of intergenerational poverty. As a company, Nike believes in the power of human potential. At the Nike Foundation, we invest exclusively in what we see as the greatest source of untapped human potential in the world today: adolescent girls.
10 Selected Companies
Bridge International Academies : The world's largest and fastest growing chain of schools. Educating over 100,000 children for an average of $6 a month.
Eco−Fuel Africa : Converting agricultural waster into clean, inexpensive, cooking fuel for Africans. Supporting over 500 women entrepreneurs and ensuring thousands of girls stay in school.
Embrace : Empowering mothers who are not able to access traditional healthcare. First product is the world's most affordable 'infant warmer.' More than 20,000 mothers in poverty have already benefited from this life−saving technology.
Eneza : Fastest growing mobile education app in Africa.
Greenlight Planet : Sold over 2 million solar home lights to off−grid families, and continuing to skyrocket distribution and reach.
Jayashree Industries : Making radically affordable sanitary pads to prevent health complications and school dropout amongst girls. Over 1,500 women owned franchises.
Paga : Nigeria's leading mobile payments service dedicated to transforming lives via financial inclusion; with over 1.9 million users.
Off−Grid Electric : Using mobile phones for a pay−as−you−go service to electricity for families in extreme poverty. Electrifying over 1,000 homes with solar each month.
Soko: Giving disadvantaged women and girl artisans in Africa the ability to sell directly to international customers through their mobile phones.
Zoona : Fastest growing and #1 mobile money operator in Zambia with a mission to help businesses grow.