Pre-accelerator programme for black female tech founders launches

South African black women with an early-stage technology business idea or concept are encouraged to apply to I’M IN’s new pre-accelerator programme.

 Successful applicants will be offered R100 000 in pre-seed funding for 10% equity.

Titled “I’M IN” Accelerator, the accelerator programme is aimed at supporting and the upliftment of all-Black women-owned tech startups. The first installment of the program will kick-off in September 2020.

I’M IN Accelerator was founded by IDF Capital and launched its first programme in 2015. The accelerator programme runs for 10 months each year.

Since inception, the program has trained 97 startups and invested in 35 of them.

In addition, the programme claims to have provided capital amounting to over R38-million to successful applicants since its inception.

Some of the successful tech startups that have gone through the programme include; Zulzi, Droppa, BrandBook, MomSays, and Lightbulb Education to name a few.

The program

Taking place virtually over 12 weeks, successful applicants to the programme will be offered R100 000 in pre-seed funding for 10% equity, mentorship and coaching, market growth, and development enablement. In addition, they will also be provided training in high-end business skills in the form of masterclasses and workshops.

The I’M IN Pre-Accelerator programme will offer back-office support that covers finance, legal and psychological assistance, and technology development support.

The pre-accelerator programme aims to assist in validating technology business concepts, building the first product, and generating initial traction for the product. The ultimate goal is to improve the investment readiness of these startups for the main I’M IN Accelerator programme.

Polo Leteka, Founder and Chairman of IDF Capital explains that placing a focus on the growth of black female-owned tech startups can result in an overall positive impact on the country at large.

“By drawing the focus of our program down to Black women-owned businesses, we want to continue to champion the development and advancement of women-owned businesses in the technology sector. We always aim to invest in businesses that will have a significant socioeconomic impact. By providing women tech startups the opportunity to participate in the sector with the right financial backing and business support, we are confident that this is indeed, a meaningful contribution to the country’s growth.”

How to apply

To apply for the 2020 I’M IN Pre-Accelerator intake, Black women with technology ideas or concepts should head onto the I’M In website and complete a short application form.

The deadline for applications is 15 September 2020.For more information, interested entrepreneurs can also send an email to

Empowering black women in tech

A reported survey published by Facebook in 2019 has revealed that women are still in the minority in South Africa’s entrepreneurial landscape.

Further reports shared by I’M IN indicate that only 34% of small to medium enterprises are women-led.

Research conducted by I’M IN also indicates that there is a less than 20% participation of women in technology accelerators. Yet IM IN claims that some statistics indicate the significance of the participation of women in the business and technology landscape.

In 2019, a McKinsey report stated that if women started businesses at the same rate as men, the global GDP could increase by $28 trillion by the year 2025. Women founders are best positioned to introduce products (femtech) that cater to female consumers’ preferences.

In 2018, Illuminate Ventures also found that technology firms led by women experienced a 35% higher return on investment (ROI) than those led by their male counterparts.

These are compelling reasons that highlight the need for support and further investment in women-led businesses in general and within the technology space in particular.

Octavius Phukubye, Entrepreneur in Residence and Acting Accelerator Manager at I’M IN, comments on the importance of supporting black women-led tech startups.

“We want to be intentional about increasing the participation of Black women founders in technology accelerators, and also bridge the funding gap between women and men founded technology startups. This is also a tangible contribution to addressing the pipeline challenge of finding Black women-owned early-stage tech startups in the South African ecosystem. This is for Black women entrepreneurs who have ideas or concepts that need to be developed into a Proof of concept (POC) or prototype or even a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) 1, to send through their applications and take advantage of the opportunity.”

Read more: New programme launches to assist female-owned tech businesses

Featured image: Polo Leteka, Founder and Chairman of IDF Capital (Supplied)



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