Dark and Lovely Beauty Accelerator – Terms and Conditions

1. The Promoters for The Dark and Lovely x SLA Beauty Accelerator (“the Program”) are Devorent Nigeria Limited (“She Leads Africa “) and L’Oreal South Africa (Proprietary) Limited  (“Dark and Lovely Africa”) (collectively, “the organisers”).

2. The 2018 Dark and Lovely x SLA Beauty Accelerator (the“Program”) begins on 31 August 2018 and ends on 8 December 2018 (“Program Period”).

2.1 The Program consists of 3 (three) phases, namely:

2.1.1 The Application Phase: 31  August 2018 – 21 September 2018;

2.1.2 The Judging Phase: 24 September 2018 – 25 September 2018

2.1.3 The Program Phase: 1 October 2018 – 8 December 2018

3. By participating, all participants agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions and the decisions of the Judges and/or Organisers, shall be binding and final on all matters relating to this Program.




4.1 Employees, board and committee members of the Organisers, their respective affiliates in respect of the Program, their parent companies and subsidiaries, agents, distributors, sales representatives, advertising and promotion agencies and the immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each of the foregoing are not eligible to be nominated for the Program.

4.2 Participants who wish to enter the Program (“Participants”) must be residents of Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa who are in possession of a valid identity document. Businesses must have at least one woman aged 18-35 as a shareholder or owner, have been in operation for less than 3 years and have received no more than $50,000 in total investment;

4.2.1 must submit their application at www.sheleadsafrica.org/beauty;

4.2.2 complete, accept the terms and conditions and submit the application form at the abovementioned website by no later than 11.59pm WAT on 14 September 2018 (the Closing Date). Entries received after the Closing Date will not be counted.  This also includes submission of the business’ pitch deck.

4.2.3 Applicants may apply for themselves or apply for someone else, provided that the Applicant has obtained valid consent from the Participant;

4.2.4 One entry per person. Bulk, automatically generated or third party entries are void.

4.2.5 Participants who are selected as Finalists must be able to supply up to three (3) references who can be contacted to verify the scope and extent of the Participant’s activities. References should be persons familiar with the business activities for which the application is made and should not include the Participant, or any person related to the Participant i.e. family members.

4.2.6 Potential nominees are subject to verification of eligibility and identity, which may include a background check and completion of any documentation required by the Sponsor to complete such background check, the results of which must be completely satisfactory as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion.

4.2.7 Entries which are unclear, incomplete, and illegible or contain errors will be declared invalid.




5.1 The selection will take place in two phases, namely She Leads Africa will narrow down the applications to the top 20 and then together with Dark and Lovely the top five will be selected. The judging will based on objective judging criteria listed below

5.1.1 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.

5.1.2 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.

5.1.3 Traction (15%): Is there proof of existing customers and revenue generated to date

5.1.4 Scalability (15%): Does the business demonstrate a significant capacity for future growth

5.1.5 Market size (10%): Is there a large addressable market for the company’s product?

5.1.6 Clear growth strategy (10%): Feasibility of the milestones identified by the company for the next 6 months

5.1.7 Unique Value (10%): The company’s product’s edge over other similar products

5.2 The organisers will contact the Selected Participants via e-mail by 20 September 2018. Should the selected participant not be contactable by the organisers after three attempts and by 12h00 WAT on 22 September 2018, the Selected Participants shall forfeit the program and the organisers will be entitled to select a different Selected Participant on the same conditions, except that the organisers will make only one attempt to contact each further name selected until Selected Participants are confirmed.

5. 3 Selection decisions will be communicated via e-mail by 01 October 2018.

5.4 All decisions of the Organisers regarding the Program are final and binding on all Participants and selection of all Winners is within the sole discretion of the Sponsor

5.5 If selected, Participants are required to participate and fully attend every part of the program, this includes but is not limited to; the week long boot camp in Johannesburg, weekly check-in calls, bi-weekly mentorship calls, completion of tasks given by the Organisers, final pitch week and Demo Day.

5.6 Should the entrant be selected to participate in the program, she undertakes to expeditiously provide to the organisers such information as may be required in order to establish her identity and eligibility to enter the competition, and to facilitate the coordinating of the prize.

5.7 The Selected Participants agree to keep all details they acquire during this Competition private and confidential until such time as the Organisers advise that they may disclose any such details.

5.8 Each entrant agrees and consents that the Organisers may run any background checks it deems necessary in relation to the Competition.

5.9 Selection for the program  is non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives to the program in whole or in part.


6.1 Acceptance of application constitutes the Participant’s’ consent to give the Organisers and its affiliates a royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, create derivative works from, and display such applications, which includes but is not limited to the Participants images, videos, voice recordings, personal information submitted , the Participants application in whole or in part, on a worldwide basis, and to incorporate it into other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed, including for promotional or marketing purposes.

6.2 If requested, the Participant will sign any documentation that may be required by the Organisers in respect of the Program.

6.3 The Organizer will not be responsible for lost, late, stolen,damaged, incomplete, invalid, unintelligible, garbled, delayed or misdirected applications; all of which will be void.



7.1 The Program is a 10 week accelerator program led by the She Leads Africa and Dark and Lovely team. Participants will spend 10 weeks with support to help grow and scale their businesses. The top three of participants will receive a $5000, $3000, and $1000 cash prize respectively.

7.2 Each Selected Participant must be available to travel to Johannesburg, South Africa or Nairobi, Kenya during the following dates:

7.2.1 The Business Bootcamp week from 1 October – 5 October 2018, and

7.2.2. The Pitch Week and Demo Day from  3 December – 8 December 2018.

7.2.3. Participants who require a visa for travel will be provided with an official visa invitation letter and will be reimbursed for their expenses upon submission of proper documentation.

7.3 Each Selected Participant must be available at the decided weekly check-in times between 8 October – 30 November 2018. Weekly times will be agreed upon once the program commences.

7.4 Each Selected Participant consents and agrees that they will, if requested by the Organisers, make themselves exclusively available for any publicity and promotion at venues, dates and times designated by the Organisers.

7.5 Neither the Organisers nor any other person or party associated with the Competition shall be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever suffered (including, but not limited to, direct, indirect and/or consequential loss) or personal injury suffered or sustained in connection with either participation in the Program or with any Prize or any part of it.



8.1 The Organisers reserve the right at any time to cancel, modify or supersede the Program (including altering prizes) if, in our sole discretion, a competition is not capable of being conducted as specified. The Organisers reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal value in the event that circumstances beyond their control make this unavoidable.

8.2 The 1st (first), 2nd (second) and 3rd (third) place Winners will each receive a $5000, $3000, and $1000 cash prize respectively in the Winner’s name to their accredited business (“the award recipient”).

8.3 The final selection of the recipient of the award shall be the Organizer’s’ sole discretion.

8.4 The Award shall not be used to satisfy a binding pledge or other legal obligation of the Honorees or any third party.

8.5 The Organizers’ shall provide the following for the Selected Participants:

8.5.1 For those residing outside of the host city, a round trip economy class airfare to and from major airport nearest the Selected Participants city of residence to the most convenient airport (if Selected Participant’s city of residence is within 250km of the ceremony location, alternate transportation may be provided); and

8.5.2 standard hotel accommodations, which is one room double occupancy in city where program will be held.

8.5.3 ground transportation, 2 pre-planned meals per day will be provided.

8.6 Miscellaneous expenses (internet access and phone calls) and all other costs and expenses not mentioned above are the sole responsibility of the Honorees.

8.7 Without in any way limiting the foregoing, all taxes on the award, if any, are the sole responsibility of Winners.

8.8 Organisers recommend that the Honorees consult a tax advisor regarding any tax consequences relating to acceptance of the award. The award donation is not transferable.



9.1 The Organiser is not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, damaged, inaccurate, stolen, delayed, misdirected, undelivered, or garbled submissions or for lost, interrupted or unavailable network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone or cable transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled,

scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the Program, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the

Program, the processing or judging of submissions, the

announcement of the award donation(s).

9.2 The Organiser will not be held responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by site users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Program.

9.3 The Organiser is not responsible for injury or damage to any person’s computer related to or resulting from participating in this Program or downloading materials from or use of the supplied content.

9.4 Persons who tamper with or abuse any aspect of the Program or content, who act in an disruptive manner or who are in violation of these Terms and Conditions, as solely determined by Organizer, will be disqualified and all associated submissions will be void.

9.5 Should any portion of the Program be in the Organisers’ sole opinion, compromised by virus, worms, bugs, non-authorized human intervention or other causes which, in the sole opinion of the Organisers, corrupt or impair the administration, security, fairness or proper play, or entry of submissions, the Organisers reserves the right at its sole discretion to suspend, modify or terminate the Program and, if terminated, at its discretion, select the potential participants from all eligible, non-suspect submissions received prior to action taken using the judging procedure outlined above.





The Program shall be governed by the laws of the Republic of South Africa. The Nominee consents to the jurisdiction of the South Gauteng High Court.



By participating, each participant agrees:

11.1 to release, discharge and hold harmless THE Organisers, its respective parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and Program agencies, and the respective officers, directors, shareholders, employees, agents and representatives of the forgoing (collectively, “Released Parties”) from any and all injuries, liability, losses and damages of any kind to persons, including death, or property resulting, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from participant’s participation in the Program or any Program related activity or the acceptance, possession, use or misuse of the award donation (including any travel or activity related thereto);

11.3 The Organisers reserves the right to modify and/or edit any nomination copy for the purpose of press releases and for feature stories in publications and online.

11.4 By participating in the Program, selected participants acknowledge and agree that publication of a nomination or story on www.sheleadsafrica.org or www.darkandlovely.co.za website or in any other media during the submission period in no way indicates that a nomination has been selected to receive an award.

11.5 The Participant, and Winner may be required to sign and return an Affidavit of Eligibility, Liability, and where legally permissible, Publicity Release. Nominee may be disqualified (at the absolute discretion of Organiser) if any such documentation is not received within the time period requested in correspondence from the Organiser. The award may be forfeited and an alternate Winner selected, if a notification letter is returned as undeliverable or potential Winner cannot be contacted.

11.6 In the event that a selected Winner declines to accept the award and the Organiser is unable to get a hold of the Participant or Winner, an alternate Winner may be selected.

11.7 Organiser reserves the right to award fewer than three (3) Winner Awards, if the nominations received are not of acceptable quality.

11.8 By submitting a completed nomination form, Participant represents and warrants to the Organiser that:

(1) any photographs submitted depict the Participant’s project only;

(2) Submission is Participant’s original work;

(3) No application materials infringe upon or violate, nor will they infringe upon or violate, the rights of any third party. If application materials include likenesses of third parties or contain elements not owned by the participant (such as, but not limited

to, company or team logos), Participant must provide legal releases for such use in a

form satisfactory to the judges and the Organiser, or the affected application will be disqualified.

11.9 Organiser reserves the right to disqualify any applicants containing photograph and/or images of third parties or any third party materials.

11.10 By accepting the title of Participant and/or Winner and the award, the Winners agree to the following including but not limited to:

  1. articles to be featured on the website and/or and other medias and platforms

  2. reporting metrics back to Sponsor showing impact of award, best practices and poll questions that may be featured on the website and social media postings supporting the program and helping with the next year’s call for nominations.



12.1        “Personal Information” is defined in section 1 of the Protection of Personal Information Act No. 4 of 2013 (“POPI”).

The Sponsor will collect, store and use Personal Information of the Participant, as provided by the Participant in the application form for the purposes of the Program.

12.2        Consent

12.2.1 By participating in the Program , you consent to:

12.2.2 The collection, collation, processing, and use of your Personal Information which may include but is not limited to full name, physical address, cellular and/or telephone numbers, email address, age and gender.

12.2.3 The possible transfer of the Participant’s Personal Information to the following countries outside of South Africa: Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.

12.2.4 The disclosure of the Participant’s Personal Information to the following entities that are related to the Sponsor: Dark and Lovely – L’Oreal and She Leads Africa.

12.2.5 That the Participant’s Personal Information may be retained by the Sponsor for a period of two years, subject to your rights to have the Personal Information removed.

12.2.5 Receiving promotional and/or marketing material and information in any form, which the Participant can opt out of at any time.

12.3 All queries in connection with the Program should be directed to the Organisers info email samira@sheleadsafrica.org

Twitter Chat with Alina Vinogradova: The importance of programming for African start-ups (Nov. 24th)

african start-up and alina

African start-ups are coming up across the continent, but the investments and programming needed to ensure their growth aren’t always there. What needs to happen for the number of investments and programming for African start-ups to increase? What should investors and venture capitalists be doing to increase the strength of the African start-up space and what can entrepreneurs themselves be doing to attract the right kinds of investments?

Given She Leads Africa’s accelerator program and our recent Demo Day, SLA is working hard to address these questions. Along with our partners from VC4Africa, Work in Progress, and others, SLA is working to ensure African entrepreneurs have the tools & resources they need to reach their goals.

Join SLA & Alina Vinogradova of VC4Africa on Nov. 24th, for a discussion on the importance of programming for African start-ups, whether it’s accelerator programs, incubators, pitch competitions or anything else that exposes African start-ups to investors and mentors. In particular, we will focus on why we need more programming focused on African women entrepreneurs and encouraging their growth across the sector.

Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats to ask your questions and participate in the discussion.

Topics that we’ll cover:

  • The toughest barriers to African entrepreneurs accessing finance, investors & venture capitalists
  • The importance of platforms where female African entrepreneurs have direct access to investors
  • Closing the gender difference in access to finance for African entrepreneurs
  • What African women should keep in mind when seeking out financing for their start-ups

Twitter chat details

  • Date: Thursday Nov. 24, 2016
  • Time: 12pm London // 1pm Lagos  // 3pm Nairobi
  • Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats

Help us spread the word:

Join @SheLeadsAfrica & @VC4A for #SLAChats on Nov. 24 on the importance of programming for African start-ups Click To Tweet

african start-up twitter chatAbout Alina Vinogradova

Alina develops and manages startup support programs implemented by VC4A as part of larger donor-funded initiatives, such as Work in Progress! Project or World Bank’s Pan-African Accelerator. She builds out VC4A’s network of strategic partnerships with various African startup ecosystem players and is constantly looking for fit between organizations, their objectives, and the goals of the VC4A community.

Alina holds MSc in Business Economics from Baltic State Technical University in St. Petersburg and an MBA from Amsterdam Business School (UvA). Prior to VC4A she spent over 10 years working in various commercial roles in the private sector in both emerging and developed markets, with B2B marketing, sales & business development being her core expertise areas.

Exclusive Community Event: SLA Accelerator Meet & Greet

accelerator meet & greet

For the past 3 months, She Leads Africa has worked with 10 amazing female entrepreneurs in our accelerator program. We have helped them grow and expand their budding businesses & in just a few days, they will have a chance to pitch their business to local and international investors. The Accelerator Demo Day is a closed event specifically for investors, corporate senior executives & the press.

But what about all the entrepreneurs and interested audience members who also want to hear directly from these amazing women about how they have started and grown their businesses? Then have we got the event for you!

Join us 16 November 2016 for a meet & greet cocktail & networking session with presentations from the Motherland Moguls in our accelerator program. This amazing opportunity is exclusively for our community members. Details for the event will be released Nov. 10th but only to those who receive our newsletter.

Event Details:

  • When: Wednesday 16th Nov. 2016
  • Time: In the Evening
  • Where: Lagos, Nigeria
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Who: You must be part of our community to get more details & an invitation

Not part of our community? What are you waiting for? Join here:

Already part of our community?

Make sure you check your email for the event details on Nov. 10th.

Help us spread the word: 

Help us spread the word about this event and you could win a Motherland Mogul or Boss T-Shirt, even if you don’t attend the event! Must be based in Lagos. Sorry, shipping’s expensive!  Not in Lagos? Still spread the word & win SLA brownie points!

@SheLeadsAfrica is having an exclusive networking event just for their community members. Sign-up here: Click To Tweet

accelerator meet & greetNot sure this event is for you? Here is what you can expect:

  • Learn directly from Motherland Moguls building their empires
  • Hear the stories and learn how these 10 amazing women started their companies & their plan for expansion
  • Network directly with the women in our accelerator program in small intimate sessions
  • Meet other like-minded women in the Lagos area and start creating connections to help you grow your business
  • Refreshing drinks & light snacks, of course
  • FREE ENTRY. This is an exclusive event for our community members, so this one’s on us! You’re welcome.


SLA Accelerator Demo Day

Accelerator Demo Day

Join us on November 20 in Lagos, Nigeria for the Demo Day of our 2016 SLA Accelerator. Demo Day is a public viewing for investors, corporates senior executives and the press to view our most recent accelerator startups.

The SLA Accelerator is a 3-month program designed to identify, support and fund the next generation of Nigeria’s brightest female entrepreneurs.

The selected businesses are:

Art Splash Studio – A virtual art studio offering a social art experience through our Paint Nite painting classes hosted at different venues in Abuja.

BathKandy Co. – Creates sumptuous dessert-inspired beauty treats for women who crave the finer things.

Bubble Tii – Bringing the Bubble Tea phenomena to Africa.

DeliveryBros – Helps you save time and stress through pickup and drops from the market to your house or office.

Fresh Direct Produce and Agro-Allied Services – An eco-friendly social enterprise that produces premium organic produce through hydroponics and community action.

Keek’s – Designs tailored weight loss packages for busy women who want a plan that is both effective and simple to implement.

Koko’s Kitchen – An indigenous brand of confectionary dry mixes specially tailored to suit the taste buds and pocketbook of the quintessential person on the go.

Independent Personal Assistant (iPA) – Provides strategic virtual assistance to high-level executives across Africa. We take care of the mundane while you focus on what matters.

Medsaf.com – Solves the medical industry’s procurement problem, by providing a technology enabled distribution solution resulting in transparency and simplicity.

Shuttlers – Enables professionals to access comfortable and efficient transportation to and from work using seat matching technology.

SLA Accelerator is in partnership with the Work in Progress! Alliance and Guaranty Trust Bank

The Work in Progress! Alliance is focused on unlocking the economic potential of young women and men in Egypt, Nigeria and Somalia. The project aims to enable them to generate sustainable and living incomes – by finding regular employment or starting enterprises. Alliance partners include Oxfam, VC4Africa and Butterfly Works

Guaranty Trust Bank is recognized as one of the most profitable and well managed financial institutions in Africa for providing quality service, ethics, professionalism, integrity, innovation and internationally accepted corporate governance standards.

SLA Accelerator is also one of 16 global incubators and accelerators selected as a Village Capital Community

VilCap Communities enables anyone, anywhere to use peer-selected investment to support entrepreneurs within their communities. In 2016, each VilCap Community will be running its own entrepreneur training program and investing in two ventures using Village Capital’s peer selection methodology.

Advice from the Accelerator Moguls: Keeping your business afloat

Keeping your new business afloat is not easy. The first year after you launch your business can also be referred to as the battlefield. This battlefield claims the lives of many young businesses. For some it’s the first few months, for others it’s a year and yet for others it’s five years before the light at the end of the “break even” tunnel emerges.

Keeping your business afloat can be tasking, you’ll mostly definitely lose some money and maybe some friends too but the idea is that after all the stress and drama, you’ll be rewarded for your effort.

So how exactly can you keep on top of things and make sure that your business emerges from the battlefield unscathed? We thought the best way to find out more on this topic would be to speak with other young business owners in our networks.

After all, it’s better to hear it from other people in the same boat. BathKandy, Medsaf and Koko’s Kitchen are among the companies chosen for SLA’s Accelerator program, here they share advice on how they manage stay afloat.

1. The importance of re-invention

For Blondie Okpuzor, founder of BathKandy, the best way to keep your business afloat is to keep re-inventing. This will give customers something to look forward to.

Customers love to get value for their money and if they feel they are getting that with you, they will keep coming back. The only thing that should be consistent in a business is excellent customer service!” Blondie says.

Re-inventing here doesn’t mean a complete overhaul while your business is till taking baby steps. Once you get the excellent customer service thing down pat, focus on little ways you can define your brand.

If you’ve noticed something isn’t working, go back to the table and look at your strategy. What can you do to improve things? Don’t be afraid to make changes early on in the game.

2. Have a flexible plan

Motherland Moguls know that when starting a business, you need a plan on how you are going to reach your targets and achieve your mission. Vivian Nwakah of Medsaf, let us know that a flexible plan is key to staying afloat in the first year of business.

“A good amount of research and planning should have been done to lay the groundwork for the business.” Vivian says.

Consider where you want your business to be in a year, three years and ten years. Think strategically about your business aspirations and write down how you plan to get there. You could spice things up by writing a letter from the future you to the you of today informing you of how she overcame challenges to become a bombass mogul.

Once you’ve drawn you plan, you know the next thing is to gather a team that will make sure you achieve your goals.

3. Invest, invest, invest

The importance of investment cannot be overstated. We’re not just talking about money here but also resources and time. Vivian also advises that,

“Founders should invest an equal amount of money to get the business going to prove their financial dedication to the success of the business. The founders should also throw as much of their resources and time to dedicate to business strategy, and execution. They have to believe wholeheartedly in the mission and value of the company.”

After you’ve poured your heart, soul and money into your business, the next step is to be positive. If you’re starting already expecting that your business will not succeed because of all the horror stories you’ve heard, you won’t get very far.

There will be many roadblocks and challenges but if you’ve invested in your dream and are dedicated, the chances of overcoming them and keeping your business afloat increases.

4. Everyone will hate your product

You’re gisting with your friend and you have a brilliant idea that you’re both 100% sure it’ll be viable and that everybody will love it. According to Sifa Asani Gowon, co-founder of Koko’s Kitchen, this isn’t the best way to start out.

“Make sure you have feedback from strangers and people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. Your business will be all the better for it.”

Don’t rely on what your friends or family say about your business. They may think you have the greatest idea on earth but on the flip side they may also think your idea is useless and will fail.

Overcome this by getting opinions from people who don’t know you but know enough about the market you want to break into. The information you gleam from this could just be your armour during that trying year.

5. Master your market

One of the many reasons businesses don’t make it past the initial stage aka the battlefield is that they find it difficult to draw in customers.

“You may have a wonderful product…but no marketing structure to get it into the hands of customers. Creating a proper and reliable marketing and distribution network is absolutely crucial.” Sifa says.

Building on this network will ensure you have what you need to draw customers in and bring in the money you need to break even. Do you have a plan for how you’re going to market your products?

Are you connected with the people who will move your goods/services from producers to consumers? If you’re still clueless about your market even after you’ve started officially launched your business, then you have a code red situation.


“Be realistically audacious” : Teniola Adejuwon on the 500 StartUps accelerator experience

Teniola Adejuwon of Podozi at 500 Start Ups

Podozi.com is a beauty ecommerce platform that gives African women access to both local and international beauty brands. Co-founders, Teniola Adejuwon and Wale Babatunde, recently completed a 4-month accelerator programme with 500 StartUps, a leading venture capital fund in Silicon Valley. To date, 500 StartUps has invested in over 1,500 businesses across 50 countries worldwide. Every year, thousands of businesses apply either through a formal application or referral, and after passing 5 or 6 rounds of interviews are accepted onto the programme. Podozi was one of 50 startups accepted for the most recent cohort ‘Batch 16’. With the programme, Podozi worked in Silicon Valley, learned how to take their business to the next level and received a net investment of $100k.

In this interview, Teniola shares her experiences with 500 Startups and gives some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

How did you get involved with 500 Startups?

It came as a total surprise. Last year, we were introduced to 500 Startups through an investor who was a personal contact. As my mentor Tara Fela-Durotoye always reminds me, your network is your networth. Previously, the investor had mentioned that although they typically focus on Series A funded businesses or higher, they really liked the Podozi business. So we agreed to keep in touch for when the business grew bigger. Applying to 500 Startups was an aspiration of ours, which we planned to pursue in the future. About a year later, we got an email introducing us to 500 Startups, and that was it.

How has being part of the 500 Startups programme helped develop Podozi?

We recently completed the programme, so it’s still very early to articulate the full benefits, but being part of the 500 network is like being part of a global family. It’s a lifetime thing, where you grow and evolve. We were exposed to people and ideas from across the world. While we have formally finished the programme, we continue to keep in touch with our batch and the other businesses in the community via a group email. We have a well of resources to draw from and access to mentors who we can reach out to for advice.

Throughout the programme, we had opportunities to pitch to hundreds of investors and peers in the startup ecosystem. One of our pinnacle moments was presenting Podozi during the closing ‘Demo Day’. Being able to articulate our brand raised our profile with international peers and investors, which also helped our profile in Nigeria. Also, to be eligible for the programme, we had to (re)incorporate as a U.S. company which gave us access to U.S. specific venture networks and investors.

Tell us more about your experience in Silicon Valley as part of 500 Startups Batch 16?

Living in California was an interesting experience. Given the 8-hour time difference, we were working from 9am to 7pm U.S. time, then worked after hours to service Nigeria alongside our colleagues back home. It was a demanding but authentic experience of what it means to run a truly international business. All businesses in our batch worked from the same office in San Francisco. This helped develop a spirit of camaraderie, collaboration and shared learning, which is not always a given in most accelerators.

We travelled to Los Angeles, New York and other cities across the U.S. which gave us exposure to international best practices and processes. Once you get established processes in place, you’re able to serve your customers better. I’ve always been an advocate of this and Podozi advocates this too. While it’s not always possible to please everyone, I remind my team to put themselves in the customer’s shoes. Empowering the customer is crucial, and something businesses on the continent tend to miss.

WhatsApp-Image-20160725 (1)

What advice would you give to aspiring startups and entrepreneurs?

Cultivate an attitude of excellence. Being entrepreneurial isn’t about calling yourself the CEO, you need to have a long-term mindset. My first company, Beauty by Nature, ran the Beauty Business Masterclass series. We would teach attendees that no matter whether you’re a nail technician or a self-taught makeup artist, you need to develop your craft and put the right structures or systems in place to support it. That is the difference between a sustainable business and one that burns out quickly.

Also, it is not only about funding. Successful entrepreneurs are convinced beyond reasonable doubt about what they are doing. In the past I’ve seen African startups get deterred early on by investor questions about about basic things like their business model or business numbers. If you are not convinced about your product, it will be difficult to enter in, let alone survive in Silicon Valley. It can become quite distracting when your brand gets bigger and your profile increases, so you need to keep focused. As one of my mentors says, ‘the media, awards and accolades will come; just do your work’.

What tips would you recommend for making a successful application to an accelerator?

Firstly, do your homework. There are funds and accelerator programmes that may be targeted to your industry or geography. Be aware that while some of them are global, their funds might be localised to specific regions.

Then, develop a proof of concept. Ideas are a dime a dozen, so don’t just go about touting ideas. Don’t simply try to replicate an idea that works in another country, ensure that it’s relevant to your market. My mentor, Mrs Ibukun Awosika says, “Be the expert of your business – know your numbers and keep your books tidy”. Businesses sometimes rush to launch an app without considering the consumer behaviour in their locality or whether they have the capacity in-house to maintain such. In e-commerce the big question is traction! It’s all about your metrics.

Third, be humble enough to admit what you don’t know and be ready to learn quickly. Utilise your resources, prepare in advance and ask as many questions as possible, there’s a wealth of resources out there like Quora to keep you up to speed. Fourth, be realistically audacious. Investors are not looking for timid entrepreneurs, they are putting their own money in and they must get a return. In the back of their minds they are asking; “Can this idea generate $100m in revenue”?

Finally, get ready to put in the grind and work very hard. As Scandal’s Eli Pope said to Olivia, “You have to work twice as hard”. It might sound harsh, but it’s the truth of the world we live in. Listen to advice but ultimately stick to your own values. I know who I am and what I’m about, and that is what sustains me.

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What’s next for Podozi?

There’s a lot to look out for from Podozi, it’s a dream that is evolving everyday. We are a company that will be here for another 50 years; a company that started in Africa with a global mandate. We want to be the bridge between customers and the beauty brands that adequately meet their needs, educating and creating a wholesome experience of beauty for women of color everywhere.

Finally, what’s the one piece of makeup you can’t live without?

My lipstick! I always go for a red or pink shade, or sometimes mix it up. I wear it practically everyday.

10 Startups Selected For The Inaugural SLA Accelerator


Earlier this year we kicked off the first ever She Leads Africa Accelerator Program. In partnership with the Work in Progress! Alliance (VC4Africa and Oxfam) and Guaranty Trust Bank we set out to create a 3-month accelerator program designed to identify, support and fund the next generation of Nigeria’s brightest female entrepreneurs.

The SLA Accelerator received applications from over 120 startups from across Nigeria. The selected entrepreneurs were evaluated based on their traction and progress in the market, management team and vision to grow and scale across Africa.

The selected businesses are:

  • Fresh Direct Produce and Agro-Allied ServicesAn eco-friendly social enterprise that produces premium organic produce through hydroponics and community action.
  • DeliveryBros – Helps you save time and stress through pickup and drops from the market to your house or office.
  • Medsaf.co – Solves the medical industry’s procurement problem, by providing a technology enabled distribution solution resulting in transparency and simplicity.
  • Koko’s Kitchen – An indigenous brand of confectionary dry mixes specially tailored to suit the taste buds and pocketbook of the quintessential person on the go.
  • Bubble Tii Bringing the Bubble Tea phenomena to Africa.
  • Shuttlers Enables professionals to access comfortable and efficient transportation to and from work using seat matching technology.
  • Keek’s – Designs tailored weight loss packages for busy women who want a plan that is both effective and simple to implement.
  • Art Splash Studio is a virtual art studio offering a social art experience through our  Paint Nite  painting classes hosted at different venues in Abuja. Paint, eat, and sip on cocktails while you create. Our instructors will guide you. So bring your friends and let’s have an art party!
  • BathKandy Co. – Creates sumptuous dessert-inspired beauty treats for women who crave the finer things.
  • Independent Personal Assistant (iPA) – Provides strategic virtual assistance to high-level executives across Africa. We take care of the mundane while you focus on what matters.

SLA Accelerator participants will spend the next three months working on their business strategy and growth, while networking with investors and potential partners.  Experts and program mentors include Chudi Amu, Vice President of Investment at Verod Capital; Shirley Somuah, Investor at Cardinal Stone Partners; Seun Abolaji, Creative Director at Wilson’s Juice Company; and Tunde Kehinde and Ercin Eskin, Cofounders of ACE.

The entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch their businesses at an investor Demo Day in October and compete for N2 million investment from She Leads Africa along with other business support services.

Congratulations to all of the selected entrepreneurs!

From the SLA Founders: Important notice about SLA Pitch 2016

Notice about Pitch 2016

2 years ago we made history and launched the first ever all-female pan African Pitch competition. During this time we’ve had over 800 applications from more than 40 different countries. We’ve personally injected $50,000 into female led businesses but have facilitated investments of up to $1mn.

Being aspiring #‎MotherlandMoguls‬, we refuse to rest of our laurels and know that it’s time to take the next step.

The pitch competition was a great way to find female businesses and give them cash but it didn’t give us the opportunity to give the entrepreneurs the training, mentorship and support we know they deserved.

So this year, instead of a pitch competition, we’ll be piloting the She Leads Africa Accelerator program – the first all female accelerator program on the continent.

The SLA Accelerator will be a 3 month program for female entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses. The program will consist of 3 1-week residences where entrepreneurs will be trained by the She Leads Africa team and our network of business leaders and experts. These residencies will be followed 3 weeks of remote monitoring.

The accelerator program will end with a demo day where businesses will pitch to a room filled with local and international investors. The winning businesses will also win $10,000 from She Leads Africa. This prize will be disbursed as a grant or as an equity investment from She Leads Africa. This program is being run in partnership with the Work in Progress Alliance, Oxfam, GTBank and VC4Africa. Applications will open in 2 weeks.

Unfortunately as all of you know this year has been financially difficult for economies across the continent. SLA is not immune to these difficulties and therefore the amount of money we have for this pilot is severely constrained. As such, the 2016 program will be held in Nigeria and will be limited to businesses based in Nigeria only.

We’re very disappointed about this restriction but unfortunately we have to be realistic about the financial realities of the day. For all our non-Nigerian members, don’t be too disappointed. If the pilot this year goes well, we plan to expand to other markets.

And hey – if you know any development agencies or corporate sponsors that would be willing to support our pan-African dreams — you know where to find us.

If you’re interested in applying for the program, make sure you’ve joined our online community here.


Yasmin and Afua