With its vision to develop the top 30 women-founded start-ups in South Africa over the next three years, Grindstone and Naspers Labs have lifted the veil on GrindstoneX, an all-women accelerator programme.
In a media release, organisers say selected start-ups will participate in Grindstone’s growth engineering programme which was designed to make the companies more investible, scalable, and exit-ready.
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The Grindstone accelerator is a structured entrepreneurship development programme which assists innovation-driven companies in engineering exponential growth. The programme provides access to expert knowledge, networks, funding and markets to the start-ups as drivers of their success.
Throughout a year-long journey, the start-ups will have their businesses assessed, and interventions, both in groups and individually, will enable them to undergo business transformation and growth. Interventions will include business strategy reviews; go-to-market planning; funding readiness preparedness; networking; business coaching from exceptional coaches, including some of the Grindstone Alumni companies who have successfully scaled their businesses; as well as funding support from Naspers Labs, Naspers’s youth development programme.
“There is so much untapped female entrepreneurial talent in South Africa, and we need to get creative in how to unearth this at scale. Value-adding partnerships between innovative corporates such as Naspers Labs and programmes with a successful track record of engineering start-up growth such as Grindstone focuses efforts on tailored interventions for founders that positively impact on their business’s metrics,” says Grindstone partner Keet van Zyl.
“We are honoured to be able to invite our country’s talented female-founded start-ups to apply for the GrindstoneX accelerator programme. As Naspers Labs, we are committed to assisting the development of micro-enterprises with an emphasis on young women. Through this partnership we aim to help grow the tech sector and the economy by unlocking the potential of female-founded start-ups,” says Mapule Ncanywa, head of Naspers Labs.
According to a 2021 Forbes article, women run 40% of Africa’s SMEs, but receive only 1% of funding from VCs. This, together with a Boston Consulting Group analysis that found when women-led start-ups do get funded, they are more likely to be successful. They deliver higher revenue, to the quantum of more than twice as much per dollar invested.
Intentional interventions, therefore, are required to balance the gender gap and deliver greater economic impact. This programme aims at contributing solutions to close this gap.
When recruiting, Grindstone will prioritise African, Coloured, and Indian women-founded start-ups, youth, people with disabilities, and people living in less affluent areas to meaningfully contribute to this agenda.
Grindstone is jointly owned by industry-leading VC company, Knife Capital and Thinkroom Consulting, which develops SMEs for market access readiness across Africa. Partners Andrea Böhmert, Catherine Young, Keet van Zyl lead a team of exceptional business-building experts who have a passion to add authentic, practical value to the participants’ entrepreneurial endeavours.
Grindstone developed numerous South African start-ups over the last eleven cohorts and is particularly proud of the continued growth in participation from female-founded businesses, with the majority female-owned business participation growing from 10% to 20% to 36% over the last three cohorts.
Catherine Young, Founder of Thinkroom Consulting and CEO of Grindstone states, “We look forward to witnessing the impact this new programme will have on the country’s start-up ecosystem and the empowerment of underrepresented ACI female-founded businesses. This programme, enabled by the vision of Naspers Labs, will make a significant difference in the demographic and gender distribution of opportunities in the South African start-up ecosystem. We are excited to partner with Naspers Labs on this very important initiative.”
The GrinstoneX Programme in partnership with Naspers Labs is open to all South African citizens, and start-ups interested in applying can click here for more information.