The Dark and Lovely x SLA Beauty Accelerator is a 10 week entrepreneurship development program to support early stage entrepreneurs who are building innovative businesses in the beauty industry.



We’re looking for creative businesses all across the beauty industry such as:

  • Media: Platforms that make it easier for women to learn beauty techniques, discover new styles and connect with customers
  • Products: Physical products that enhance the beauty process
  • Technology: Software and services that support the beauty industry
  • Retail: Platforms that simplify the buying process for consumers
  • And many more…..


  • Business must be based in Côte d’Ivoire, GhanaKenya, Nigeria or South Africa
  • Business with at least one female member on the founding team between the ages of 18 and 35
  • Business that has received less than $50,000 in funding
  • Business that is less than 3 years in operation
  • Business that has already begun operations and has a live product on the market
  • Entrepreneurs at the idea stage are not eligible to apply

Click here for the program terms and conditions.

This Accelerator is run in partnership with Dark and Lovely

She Leads Africa is a media platform that helps young women achieve their professional dreams by providing expert advice, opportunities for networking and global growth opportunities. SLA reaches more than 500,000 women across 35+ countries and 5 continents and has been featured in the Financial Times, BBC, CNN, Forbes, CNBC Africa, Fast Company, Black Enterprise and Huffington Post. In December 2016, SLA was the first African startup to ring the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

For more than 45 years, Dark and Lovely has been dedicated to providing superior hair care and styling products for African women. Dark and Lovely continues to unveil breakthrough hair innovations for African women, including the most recent launch of Dark and Lovely Au Naturale, a range specifically designed for natural African hair.

Photos from the 2017 Beauty Accelerator



Key Dates

  • Applications Open – Friday, 31 August, 2018
  • Applications Close –  Friday, 5 October, 2018 at 17:00 South African Time

Can I apply even if I have applied for a previous SLA Accelerator program?

Previous accelerator applicants are eligible to apply but must demonstrate growth and integration of any previous feedback received since the last application.

If I have two businesses can I apply with both?

Only one application per person is accepted, so please submit your strongest business.

If my business has two female co-founders should we both apply separately?

Only one application per business is accepted, regardless of the number of female co-founders.

Can I apply even if my business is not registered?

Yes. We realise that most early stage businesses (0-3 years old) are yet to be registered with regulatory agencies. However, all companies, registered or not, must demonstrate in their application that they are a good fit for the program and fully meet all eligibility criteria.

Is my company eligible if I founded it with a man?

Yes, your company is eligible, but the woman will be required to enroll into the program

Do I have to be a member of the SLA community to apply?

Yes. You can easily be a part of the SLA community by joining here

How do I know that my application has been received?

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, only semi-finalists will be notified.



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 this online form
  • Agree to the terms and conditions
  • Submit a 1-minute pitch video (optional)
  • 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. Please ensure that the video is audible.

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 help in putting my pitch deck together?

Here are a couple of SLA resources you should definitely use

  1. Download our guide on how to make 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 including
    1. Four things you must have to be pitch perfect
    2. What is a pitch deck? – By Improve Presentation
    3. The Ultimate Pitch Deck to Raise Money for Startups

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.



Will applicants receive personal feedback about their application?

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

How are the semi-finalists and finalists selected?

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

  • Solution (20%): Is the company’s product solving a major problem or pain point for the customer? How well does the solution address the problem? Assessment of the proof of concept and product/market fit.
  • Team (20%): Assessing the team’s competencies, is this the best team to solve the problem the business is attempting to be the solution for.
  • Traction (15%): Is there proof of existing customers and revenue generated to date
  • Scalability (15%): Does the business demonstrate a significant capacity for future growth
  • Market size (10%): Is there a large addressable market for the company’s product?
  • Clear growth strategy (10%): Feasibility of the milestones identified by the company for the next 6 months
  • Unique Value (10%): The company’s product’s edge over other similar products




What are the benefits of participating in the SLA Accelerator?

Acceptance into the SLA Accelerator will provide you with access to support from She Leads Africa and Dark and Lovely team.

This support will 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
  • Access to SLA’s network of supporters, influencers and advisors.

Is the cash prize a grant or investment?

The cash prizes awarded to the winners will be a grant and will be made in U.S Dollars. Companies are required to abide by all local tax regulations in accordance with their local government.

Where should I send my questions?

If your questions have not been answered in this document, please email with the subject line “ Dark and Lovely Accelerator X SLA Beauty Accelerator Question”.