SA SME Fund backed Akro opens call in new Cape based accelerator

Featured image: Love Cape Town via Facebook

Cape Town based venture builder Akro has opened a call to entrepreneurs for a new 20-week acceleration programme which is funded by the SA SME Fund.

Founders have until 15 May to apply at The names of the successful applicants for the first cohort will be announced in the second half of May and the programme will start on the 10 June.

Akro Accelerate programme director Pieter Strydom told Ventureburn in a call on Tuesday that the aim is to run two cohorts this year, each with eight entrepreneurs.

The accelerator is open to all kinds of businesses and not just tech startups, but preference will be given to entrepreneurs with products or services that have a high degree of scalability, said Strydom.

In line with the SA SME Fund’s objectives to support and fund more black African entrepreneurs, the accelerator will seek to have just over half of the places in each cohort filled by black Africans.

Startups have until 15 May to apply for eight spots in Akro’s first cohort

Startups that are selected won’t have to sell any of their equity when they join the accelerator programme.

SA SME Fund CEO Ketso Gordhan told Ventureburn by email that the fund, which draws its contributions from a number of listed companies in SA as well as from the Public Investment Company (PIC), has agreed to provide R2-million to Akro sponsor two cohorts over a year. 

Two phase programme

In a press release earlier this week Akro Accelerate said the programme will offer a “deeply-focused, intense period of strategising, creating and executing geared to immerse participants in the practical realities of running a business”. 

“We plan on getting really stuck in with the companies at both an operational and strategic level… really driving their business growth. We work alongside companies to write code, make sales calls and close commercial contracts,” Akro Accelerate CEO and former Accenture senior manager Philani Sangweni commented in the same statement.  

“Akro has been in the business of working with early-stage technology companies for more than four years now. Creating this programme was really the natural next step for us to package our knowledge and learnings into a 20-week period of intense company-building.” Janine Basel, CEO Akro Capital said in the statement.

The programme is split into two phases, a core phase and an extended phase. The core phase is an eight-week, intensive programme that includes a rigorous workshopping, events and mentorship schedule, and the extended phase is a 12-week period of weekly mentoring and accountability management to ensure the benefits of the core programme are extended into the future.

Some of Ako’s mentors and advisors include SnapScan head of business Rupert Sully, Excel @ Uni Founder Lungelo Gumede, Altivex Creative Foundry co-founder Mushambi Mutuma and EduOne co-founder Jason Basel.

Access to funding

Investment discussions will commence after the completion of the eight-week core programme. Startups that have graduated from the programme, will have access to funds set aside by the SA SME Fund to be deployed through their partner funds as well as Akro’s own angel investor network.

“As we’re generally going to be working with relatively early-stage startups, we want to give them the opportunity to build and scale as much as possible over that eight-week period before they have to sell equity.

“Importantly, the investments made after the Core Programme need to generate a return for the investor, so startups have to be able to demonstrate that they’ve found product-market fit and have the ability to scale their business” explained Sangweni.   

The criteria for selection is quite simple. Startups can be post or pre-revenue, provided that they have a prototype or minimum viable product that can be developed into a production-ready version within two to five months. More than one founder as well as at least one technical co-founder per startup is preferable, however this is not a hard requirement.

Those interested can apply here.

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Read more: Former PPC Cement head announced as new SA SME Fund CEO [Updated]
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Read more: Over a year on, when will big companies’ SA SME Fund get going? [Opinion]
Read more: SA SME Fund will commence with due diligence in July says CEO
Read more: SA SME Fund is not aimed at venture capital sector, says CEO
Read more: Exclusive: ‘Government won’t match private sector in R1.5bn SME fund’

Editor’s note (2 May 2019): This article was updated to include SA SME Fund CEO Ketso Gordhan’s comment that his fund has agreed to provide R2-million to Akro sponsor two cohorts over a year. 

Featured image: Love Cape Town via Facebook



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