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New accelerator programme focuses on female founders

Grindstone has joined forces with Naspers Labs to launch a startup accelerator for businesses founded by women

The Grindstone startup accelerator will source ten of the best female-founded South African businesses annually, in partnership with Naspers’s youth development programme, Naspers Labs.

The new GrindstoneX Programme will see the startups partiicapte in Grindstone’s growth engineering programme, designed to make the companies more investible, scalable, and exit-ready.

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 the 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 that have successfully scaled their businesses; as well as funding support from Naspers Labs.

“There is so much untapped female entrepreneurial talent in South Africa, and we need to get creative in how to unearth this at scale.,” says Grindstone partner Keet van Zyl. “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.”

Mapule Ncanywa, head of Naspers Labs, says: “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.”

According to a 2021 Forbes article, women run 40% of Africa’s SMEs, but receive only 1% of funding from VCs. This despite a Boston Consulting Group analysis finding that, 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.

When recruiting, Grindstone will prioritise ACI (African, Coloured, and Indian) female-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 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 business-building experts who add practical value to the participants’ entrepreneurial endeavours.

  • Start-ups interested in applying to the programme should do so here.
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