South Africa’s Sw7 has partnered Standard Bank and Microsoft BizSpark to launch its mentor-led tech accelerator at the newly-opened Standard Bank Incubator in Rosebank, Johannesburg.
Sw7 launched in July of last year and runs nine-week, mentor-led programmes, has a pre-existing partnership with Microsoft BizSpark initiative that will now be extended to run accelerators from the Rosebank incubator. The programme has more than 65 chief executive officers (CEOs) and founders that mentor its participants.
“We are very excited to launch this initiative with Standard Bank. Getting the support of the leading bank in Africa will help us a lot with the challenges around gaining access to market and raising funding, both within the community and for the high growth businesses,” said Sw7 co-founder Odette Jones.
“Over the last three years we have worked hard to increase both the quality of the businesses attending and the structure and content of the accelerator. Adding access to the Standard Bank Incubator ecosystem to the extensive support we are getting through the Microsoft BizSpark programme will be a fantastic boost to the high growth businesses we are working with.”
Jones said the ideal applicant for the programme would be a technology business with a product in the market that is less than five years old and is poised for significant growth. Sw7 will consider some pre-revenue businesses, but the focus will be on post-revenue products.
Fellow co-founder Keith Jones said Sw7 believed the programme has no peers in the region.
“The accelerator offers access to a mentor community of 65 technology CEOs, the Microsoft BizSpark and Standard Bank Incubator ecosystems, and structured content to define optimal strategy of the business based on pragmatic hands-on experience,” he said.
“The support from our sponsors also means the accelerator is financially accessible. Our goal is to engage with and help innovative businesses realise their potential and take advantage of the booming innovation market.”
Applications are open from now until May 17, with the accelerator starting on June 4 and taking place every Thursday between 5.30pm and 8.30pm for nine weeks.
Disrupt Africa reported late last year Sw7 was hoping to raise a fund in the second half of 2015 in order to invest in companies.
Jones said at the time Sw7 was a “work in progress” but improving all the time, and was also looking to add more key sponsors this year.
“There is amazing chemistry that happens in the group and with the mentors, where there is a strong focus on pragmatism and doing deals,” he said.
“Sw7 is all about building a community of people to help them make connections and figure out what they need to do to succeed, and give them the tools to focus on what they need to do to get the job done.”