SA’s Sw7, Amazon Web Services team up to launch Africa’s 1st virtual business accelerator

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The Johannesburg-based Sw7 has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to introduce what it says is Africa’s first virtual B2B technology business accelerator.

Sw7 helps startups prepare for and find funding, as well as providing business support and board advisory, to assist with off-shore expansion and sale of businesses. So far it has run nine cohorts and worked with over 300 tech businesses.

It has now partnered AWS to launch a new virtual accelerator, which it says will assist founders of B2B and SaaS startups looking to scale on AWS, offering business support through primarily digital channels. 

“We are excited to team up with AWS, to offer an inclusive, community-supported, data-driven approach that assists B2B technology businesses to effectively scale,” said Odette Jones, Sw7 co-founder. 

“Businesses pay for the level of support they want without giving up equity and avoid the constraints imposed by traditional programme-centric approaches. This cost-based model is appealing – it’s the best of all worlds.”

Sw7 co-founder Keith Jones said the Objective Key Result (OKR) structure the programmes used enabled it to move away from a programme-centric curriculum and batch-based approach, and move to a more business needs and outcomes-based approach where content, tools and templates are curated for each business.

“This makes engagements with our mentor pool more effective as they have clarity about the status and goals of each business. High growth is all about focus and execution once you have a clear direction. Sw7 offers a strategy execution approach to support this,” he said.

There are three levels of membership and support under the new virtual programme. Business Community is an inclusive community for tech businesses at all life stages that offers shared insights and learnings, business assessments, additional sector and life stage relevant content and reports, at no cost. Businesses get up to US$3,000 of AWS Activate credits for up to one year, including two months of AWS business support.

Business Growth offers access to Sw7-hosted mentor-led digital dial-ins & digital workshops, full access to the Sw7 acceleration platform, and AWS hosting credits of up to US$10,000 and up to AWS US$5,000 business support for one year. This level is aimed at tech businesses at all life stages wishing to move their business forward in a more structured way and costs US$50 per month with an initial payment of three months.

Business Scale offers one-on-one strategy workshops, access to Sw7-hosted mentor sessions, board advisory, strategy setup and execution through the Sw7 platform, US$15,000 Activate credits for up to two years to build on AWS, tech support for up to US$5,000 for dedicated technical support on-line for up to one year, “Startup Spotlight” nominations for free PR and access to new markets with Startup Marketplace (SaaS Sellers market). Capital Connect offers access to a global pool of VCs. This option is for ISV, B2B, SaaS post-revenue technology businesses with some traction, and will be limited to 20 businesses for the three-month pilot phase. Half of the Business Scale fees are covered by AWS, so founders will only pay US$200 monthly.

Access to Business Community will be open to all applicants and will be offered on an ongoing basis. The initial phase of Business Growth and Business Scale will be offered to founders based in South Africa. Recruitment will be open until December 15, and the programme will start on January 13, 2020.The intention is to run this as an ongoing offering to businesses throughout Africa.

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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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