SA’s Grindstone Accelerator raises $1.5m from SA SME Fund, partners Google for Startups


South Africa’s Grindstone Accelerator has received a ZAR25 million (US$1.5 million) investment from the SA SME Fund and concluded partnership agreements with Google for Startups and Deloitte to extend its reach. 

The investment and partnerships will see Grindstone, run by VC firm Knife Capital, greatly increase activities by doubling intake numbers, digitising learning content and running annual programmes in both Cape Town and Johannesburg to add six cohorts of 10 scale-up companies each over the next three years.  

Grindstone is a structured entrepreneurship development programme that assists high-growth innovation-driven SMEs to become sustainable and fundable. Grindstone supplies each cohort in a year-long programme with knowledge, networks and funding readiness through growth measurement, gap analysis and deep interventions designed to build a foundation for growth, transfer skills, create relevant business networks and enable these companies to take advantage of market access opportunities.

“The accelerator programme was created by compressing the VC firm’s venture capital engagement model of aggressively growing a company for three to five years into an intense year-long programme. The programme helps entrepreneurs who are navigating their way through the treacherous business scale-up phase by identifying the pitfalls and success metrics of their businesses strategies while closing growth gaps to execute those strategies,” said Andrea Bӧhmert, co-managing partner at Knife Capital.

The SA SME Fund supported the current Grindstone Johannesburg cohort, and confirms another three-year partnership with its investment. Ketso Gordhan, chief executive officer (CEO) of the SA SME Fund, said it was committed to developing world class local entrepreneurs.

“Grindstone is a good fit as it has shown consistent results in supporting and growing successful South African high-growth SMEs,” he said. 

The SA SME Fund is providing favourable funding support to the next 60 Grindstone companies to enable them to close the initial growth gaps identified. Further growth funding is also available on commercial terms to scale the companies through Knife Capital as well as other funding vehicles backed by the SA SME Fund.

Grindstone also confirmed Google for Startups as a technology partner in South Africa, where it will provide Google for Startups programmes to future Grindstone cohorts, while Deloitte Digital is extending its commitment to the Grindstone programme after a successful 2019 cohort.

Applications for the next Grindstone programmes are open here until April 24.


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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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