Women and girls are undervalued in societies across much of Africa. Springâ€™s goal is to support businesses that not only create goods and services that address the needs of girls, but that involve girls on the operational side as well. â€œGirls tend to make better employees and more reliable small entrepreneurs of their own,â€ BÃ©har says. â€œThey tend to jump at opportunities when they comeâ€”so creating more opportunities for them is a great chance for an entrepreneur to get the best results out of their business.â€
Sustainability and profit are not Springâ€™s only objectives. The program, which was initially conceived by the Nike Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Department for International Development, in the U.K., works with businesses to help them transform the lives of adolescent girls. â€œGirls are pretty invisible when it comes to business. Thatâ€™s a big mistake,â€ says Rebecca Calder, Springâ€™s technical director and one of the worldâ€™s leading experts on the economic empowerment of adolescent girls. â€œTheyâ€™re givers. Theyâ€™ll re-invest in your business and in their own communities and in their families. And given the chance theyâ€™ll re-invest in themselves. Thereâ€™s huge potential and itâ€™s not tapped.â€
David Kuria, a Kenyan architect and businessman, is the founder of AfricAqua, which aims to provide affordable and safe drinking water to communities across Kenya. Girls were not part of his original working model, but when Spring asked if he could revise his plans with girls in mind, he leapt at the chance. During the boot camp he decided to include schools in his distribution plan, all organized through student water clubs run by girls. â€œIâ€™ll be able to train them to be ambassadors for safe water,â€ says Kuria, who intends to share revenue with the girlsâ€™ clubs. â€œWeâ€™re talking about almost 30,000 schools across the country with potential partnershipsâ€”thatâ€™s a major disruption of what I had initially thought about.â€
Back row: David Kuria, Felix Kimaru, Galen Welsch, Roo Rogers, Moussa Habineza, Pierre-Damien Mbatezimana, Geoffrey Kobia, Yves BÃ©har, Andrew Foote, and Afzal Habib. Front row: Richard Bbaale, Linda Mukangoga, Dave Okech (in blue jacket), Abubaker Musuuza, Rebecca Kaduru, Gayatri Datar, Dr. Charles Kamotho, Gerald Otim, Leah Namugosa, and Cynthia Coredo. Photographed during the Spring Accelerator Boot Camp, just outside the grounds of the Masai Lodge, Nairobi, Kenya.
Photograph by Guillaume Bonn.