Accelerator Need To Knows


 When do applications open?

Applications will be open from April 4th until May 31, 2015 at 11:59pm Lagos time. Any late applications will not be considered regardless of the circumstances.

Who is eligible to apply?

  • Business with at least one female member on the founding team between the ages of 18 and 35
  • Business has received less than $50,000 in funding
  • Business less than 3 years old
  • Business based in Nigeria
  • Businesses that have already begun operations and have a live product on the market. Entrepreneurs at 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.

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. If you are selected, all transport from outside of Lagos and accommodation will be covered by She Leads Africa.

Can I apply even if I applied for the pitch competition last year?

Previous applicants are eligible to apply but they should integrate previous feedback received.

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?

Businesses should only apply once regardless of the number of female cofounders.


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
  • Submit a 1 minute pitch video
  • Submit a pitch deck

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.

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 is a simple but compelling way.

Does my pitch deck need to be designed by a professional?

Your pitch deck does not need to have a fancy design but it should be easy to understand. Use graphs and visuals to share your story and avoid heavy text.

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: Expound 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?

Where can I find help in putting my pitch deck together?

We’ll be hosting in person information sessions in Lagos and Abuja and online webinar for those unable to attend the in person sessions. 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

  1.     Download our guide on Building a Pitch Deck That Brings In The Cash
  2.     Check out our video on YouTube on our application pet peeves
  3.     Check out some articles we have on 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.

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 an email to the VC4Africa platform.


 When will applicants find out if they’ve been selected as a semi-finalist?

All applicants will be notified of their status by July 1, 2016.

Will applicants receive personal feedback about their application?

Unfortunately due to the number of applications we receive we will not be able to provide personalized feedback on your application.

How are the semi-finalists and finalists selected?

Our review committee will be evaluating applications against several critical factors:

  1. Proof of Concept
  • Clear problem, which candidate is hoping to solve
  • Well-defined solution
  • Pathway to monetizing the proposed solution
  1. 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
  1. Management Team
  • Assessment of personnel capabilities
  • Strengths of team align with startup needs
  1. Financials
  • Clear understanding of how this business with make money and the key value drivers
  • Specific investment ask and a plan for how they will utilize the funds
  • Reasonable investment ask for their stage of business

How will I know if my application has been received?

Within a week of submission, all applicants will be notified of receipt.


 When will the residencies be?

If you’re accepted to the program, the residencies will be on the following dates. Please make sure you will be available during this time.

Residency 1: 10-16 July

Residency 2: 7-13 August

Residency 3: 4-10 September

Demo Day: 10-15 October

Am I allowed to miss parts of the residencies?

We will only allow participants to miss parts of a residency in the most extreme circumstances. The program is designed such that entrepreneurs need to attend in full for maximum benefits and to make sure you are well prepared for Demo Day and beyond.

If I’m based in Lagos, do I have to stay at the SLA hotel during the residencies?

No you do not. However, you will be expected to show up to class on time. Lateness will not be excused. Participants who are persistently late will be asked to leave the program.

How will the residencies be structured?

The typical structure of a residency is as follows:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Morning Teaching Session Private Work Teaching Session Private Work Teaching Session/ Site visit
Afternoon Review of previous month’s goals and milestones Private work/ 1 on ­1 office hours Private work/ 1 on ­1 office hours Private work/ 1­ on 1 office hours Private work/ 1­on 1 office hours
Evening Speaker Series Speaker Series Goal setting for the next month


 Is the N 2,000,000 prize a grant or an equity investment?

The N 2,000,000 awarded to the winner will be an equity investment by SLA in exchange for a 7% equity stake in your company. The investment will be made in Naira.

What are the other benefits of receiving an equity investment from SLA?

Once SLA becomes an investor in your business, you will receive continued support strategic support from our team.

This support would include

  • 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
  • Monthly/ quarterly meetings with SLA’s team
  • Access to SLA’s network of supporters, influencers and advisors.

Essentially, the entire SLA team and our board of advisors will have your back and make sure that you and your business succeed. If you decide you want your products at ShopRite, we’ll leverage our local networks to make that happen. If you decide that you need to raise money, we’ll find you investors to pitch to (though it will of course be your responsibility to close the deal). We will bring our networks and those of our alumni institutions including Chicago Business School, McKinsey & Co, Harvard Law School, Princeton University to make sure that we can connect you with the resources you need to make you successful. Your success will be our success and we are ladies who believe that failure is not an option.

Where should I send my questions?

If your questions have not been answered in this document, please email with the subject line SLA Accelerator.