Cape Town-based Akro partners SA SME Fund for new accelerator

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The Cape Town-based Akro has partnered the SA SME Fund to open applications for a new accelerator it claims operates a new model for building, funding and scaling startups.

Akro Capital is a venture builder that focuses on building and scaling high-growth startups, and its first programme, which kicks off in June, will offer a deeply-focused, intense period of strategising, creating and executing to immerse participants in the practical realities of running a business.

The programme will predominantly focus on assisting promising black entrepreneurs build and scale their businesses, and is supported by the SA SME Fund. Launched in 2016 and capitalised by almost 50 JSE-listed firms, the fund is backing a host of South African incubators and accelerators, among them Akro and Savant.

“The accelerator market in South Africa is growing rapidly, which is amazing to see. We’re coming to the market with a new model which we believe will increase the number of startups that secure funding,” said Janine Basel, chief executive officer (CEO) of Akro Capital.

“Akro has been in the business of working with early-stage companies for more than four years now. Creating this programme was really the natural next step for us to package our knowledge and learnings into a 20-week period of intense company-building.”

Philani Sangweni, a previous Accenture senior manager and ex-COO of Fundi, will head up Akro Accelerate.

“We plan on getting really stuck in with the companies at both an operational and strategic level… really driving their business growth. We work alongside companies to write code, make sales calls and close commercial contracts,” Sangweni said.

The programme is split into two phases, a Core Phase and an Extended Phase. The Core Phase is an eight-week, intensive programme that includes a rigorous workshopping, events and mentorship schedule, while the Extended Phase is a 12-week period of weekly mentoring and accountability management.

Akro Accelerate will work in close collaboration with successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, development houses and other key players in Cape Town’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to build scalable businesses through its programme.

Startups do not have to part with any equity when they join the programme, with investment discussions commencing after the completion of the eight-week core programme. Startups that have graduated from the programme, will have access to funds set aside by the SA SME Fund to be deployed through their partner funds, as well as Akro’s own angel investor network.

“Akro works at a grassroots level to find and support some of SA’s best early stage startups – we’re looking forward to help scale their efforts with the launch of their accelerator programme,” said Ketso Gordhan, CEO of the SA SME Fund.

Applications for the first cohort are open until May 15.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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