Grindstone, Naspers Labs announce 10 women to benefit from its entrepreneur accelerator programme in SA


Grindstone, in partnership with Naspers Labs have announced the first 10 women entrepreneurs to benefit from its entrepreneur accelerator programme, GrindstoneX which was launched in September 2022 with the intention to assist women-founded businesses to become more investible, scalable, and exit-ready.

The successful companies are: Africa Beyond 4IR, Blushproof, Chicken Bar, Four Minute Medicine, Seponono Africa, Abaguquli, Thetha Digital, Tsehla Holdings, Wisi-oi Marketplace, and Young Rebels Marketing. These start-ups are active in a wide range of sectors, including but not limited to, hydroponics, branding and web development, fashion marketplace, online educational content as well as digital empowerment through animation, gaming and virtual reality, among others.

“We have been intentional in our recruitment approach in all our Grindstone programmes to ensure we increase the number of businesses who are women founded and led. This enables us to provide direct support to improve entrepreneurial opportunities equally, and to provide further springboards for investment ready women founded businesses in South Africa,” says Catherine Young, partner at Grindstone.

GrindstoneX is made possible by funding support from Naspers Labs and builds on the experience and success of Grindstone’s growth engineering programmes.

Women 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.

“South Africa has a reputation for breeding innovative businesses, but there is still a lot of untapped potential among women entrepreneurs,” says Mapule Ncanywa, head of Naspers Labs.

“Given Naspers Labs’ focus on addressing unemployment through digital skills training, this initiative is particularly exciting because not only are we helping to uncover women entrepreneurial talent, but we are also adding rocket fuel to South Africa’s economic growth and job creation.”

Only 19.4% of South African businesses are run by women, states the 2021 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE). Part of the reason for this, is the woefully low amount of funding raised by women start-ups – only 4.9% of funds raised in 2022 went to women-led start-ups across Africa according to recently released Briter Bridges Africa Investment Report. The 2022 MIWE report suggests that women’s advancement in economies like South Africa’s tends to be hampered by less supportive entrepreneurial conditions.

Previous alumni of Grindstone’s programmes include: on-demand grocery delivery provider OneCart, which exited to Massmart; South Africa’s largest pre-owned designer luxury brand Luxity; delivery management platform Loop, whose technology is behind some of the most popular order and delivery apps in South Africa; and visitor management start-up Wizzpass, which exited to FM:Systems in 2021.

“The South African start-up ecosystem is vibrant, creating innovative and purpose- driven businesses with the potential to make a powerful impact across South Africa – we really had our work cut out for us to select the final ten. We were delighted to be presented with a number of amazing women candidates who were well positioned to benefit from the support GrindstoneX offers,” says GrindstoneX programme director, Nonceba Qabazi.

“These start-ups have one thing in common: the ingenuity and drive of their women founders.”