GrindstoneX seeks female-founded tech start-ups

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 30 Sept 2022

Business accelerator Grindstone and Naspers Labs are looking to fund female-founded tech start-ups in SA through the newly-launched GrindstoneX programme.

Under the initiative, Grindstone will source 10 of the best female-founded South African businesses annually, for the next three years.

The start-ups will participate in Grindstone’s growth programme, designed to make the companies more investible, scalable and exit-ready.

The Grindstone Accelerator is a structured entrepreneurship development programme that assists innovation-driven companies in engineering exponential growth.

According to Grindstone, the project provides start-ups with access to expert knowledge, networks, funding and markets to drive their success.

Throughout the year-long journey, it says, the start-ups will have their businesses assessed, and interventions, both in groups and individually, will enable them to undergo transformation and growth.

Interventions will include business strategy reviews; go-to-market planning; funding readiness preparedness; networking; business coaching from 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, focus efforts on tailored interventions for founders that positively impact on their business’s metrics.”

“We are honoured to be able to invite our country’s talented female-founded start-ups to apply for the GrindstoneX accelerator programme,” says Mapule Ncanywa, head of Naspers Labs.

“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.”

In a statement, Grindstone says according to a 2021 Forbes article, women run 40% of Africa’s SMEs, but receive only 1% of venture capital funding.

A Boston Consulting Group analysis found that when women-led start-ups do get funded, they are more likely to be successful, it notes.

It believes intentional interventions, therefore, are required to balance the gender gap and deliver greater economic impact.

Grindstone will prioritise African, coloured and Indian (ACI) female-founded start-ups, youth, people with disabilities, and people living in less affluent areas to meaningfully contribute to this agenda.

It is jointly owned by venture capital company Knife Capital and Thinkroom Consulting, which develops SMEs for market access readiness across Africa.

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.”

It is open to all South African citizens, and start-ups interested in applying should do so here.