New accelerator programme focuses on female founders

The Grindstone Startup Accelerator, in partnership with Naspers Labs, Naspers’ youth development program, will annually identify ten of the best South African women-founded companies.

Under the new GrindstoneX program, the startups will participate in Grindstone’s growth engineering program, which aims to make companies more investable, scalable and exit-ready.

The Grindstone Accelerator is a structured entrepreneurship development program that supports innovation-driven companies to develop exponential growth. The program gives start-ups access to expert knowledge, networks, funding and markets as drivers of their success.

During the year-long journey, the startups’ companies will be evaluated and interventions, both in groups and individually, will allow them to undergo business changes and growth. Interventions include business strategy reviews; go-to-market planning; willingness to finance willingness; Networking; Business coaching from exceptional coaches including some of the Grindstone alumni companies that have successfully scaled their businesses; and financial support from Naspers Labs.

“There is so much untapped female entrepreneurial talent in South Africa and we need to get creative in how to bring this to light on a large scale,” says Grindstone partner Keet van Zyl. “Value-added partnerships between innovative companies like Naspers Labs and programs with a proven track record of growing engineering startups like Grindstone focus on tailored interventions for founders that positively impact their company’s metrics.”

Mapule Ncanywa, Head of Naspers Labs, says: “As Naspers Labs, we are committed to supporting the development of micro-enterprises with a focus on young women. Through this partnership, we aim to contribute to the growth of the tech sector and economy by unlocking the potential of startups founded by women.”

According to a 2021 Forbes article, women run 40% of African SMEs but receive only 1% of VC funding. This is despite an analysis by the Boston Consulting Group, which found that startups run by women are more likely to succeed when they are funded. They deliver higher returns of more than double per dollar invested.

When recruiting, ACI (African, Black and Indian) Grindstone will prioritize women-founded start-ups, youth, people with disabilities and people living in less affluent areas to make a meaningful contribution to this agenda.

Grindstone is co-owned by VC firm Knife Capital and Thinkroom Consulting, which develops SMEs for market access across Africa. Partners Andrea Böhmert, Catherine Young and Keet van Zyl lead a team of business building experts who bring practical value to attendees’ entrepreneurial endeavors.

  • Start-ups that want to apply for the program can do so here.