Ten South African startups have been selected for the three-year GrindstoneX accelerator programme, which aims to empower women entrepreneurs while creating jobs.
As reported in October, South Africa’s Grindstone Accelerator had partnered Naspers Labs to launch GrindstoneX, a new all-female accelerator programme designed to make women-led startups more investible, scalable, and exit-ready.
Founded in 2014 and co-owned by Knife Capital and Thinkroom, Grindstone focuses on assisting high-growth, innovation-driven companies to enable scale in their businesses. Naspers Labs, meanwhile, is the youth development programme of global consumer internet group and technology investor, Naspers.
The two organisations have joined forces to launch GrindstoneX, which each year will source 10 of the best female-founded South African businesses and put them through Grindstone’s 12-month growth engineering programme, which assesses a business on its unique merits and then enables them to undergo business transformation and growth via targeted interventions.
The first cohort has now been selected, and includes Africa Beyond 4IR, a digital incubation and empowerment programme that exposes disadvantaged communities to business opportunities in tech fields like animation, gaming, virtual reality, and drones; Blushproof, which creates innovative, leak-free, and reusable period panties and sells them online; Chicken Bar, a grilled chicken restaurant with an online delivery service that employs GPS and other advanced technology; and Four Minute Medicine, an e-learning and e-health summaries, videos, and courses to help medical students and junior doctors learn and digest information more effectively.
Also selected are Seponono Africa, a digital branding firm; Abaguquli4IR, which upskills and trains people with 4IR skills; Thetha Digital, which creates high-quality digital and educational content for South African companies; Tsehla Holdings, which builds futures for women in hydroponics using the latest technological advancements; Wisi-Oi, an online marketplace for pre-loved fashion; and Young Rebels Marketing, a digital marketing company.
GrindstoneX is made possible by funding support from Naspers Labs and builds on the experience and success of Grindstone’s growth engineering programmes. Female founders will undergo detailed assessments and analyses of their companies, followed by carefully structured interventions, as needed.
Interventions include business strategy; go-to-market planning; funding readiness and networking; and expert business coaching, including mentorship and advice from Grindstone alumni companies that have successfully scaled or exited their businesses.
“We have been intentional in our recruitment approach in all our Grindstone programmes to ensure we increase the number of businesses who are female-founded and led. This enables us to provide direct support to improve entrepreneurial opportunities equally, and to provide further springboards for investment-ready female-founded businesses in South Africa,” said Catherine Young, partner at Grindstone.