The world is quickly becoming more aware of the gender gap, and country leaders, investors, and company boards are behind it, pushing for more diversity and less of a gap between men and women in the funding landscape.
Things are moving slower in Africa, the second most populous continent, where women run 40% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) but only get 1% of venture capital funding (VCs).
But research shows that companies started by women make more money—more than twice as much per dollar invested—than companies started by men. This makes companies started by women better investments. Right now, this gap is costing sub-Saharan Africa $95 billion every year.
To close the gender gap, programs like women-focused accelerators have been started to help more small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) led by women get ready for investment.
Grindstone, an accelerator that has been around for nine years, recently teamed up with Naspers Labs, a youth development program, to launch the Grindstone X Programme. The Grindstone X Programme is a South African accelerator for women-led SMEs.
It will give them access to expert knowledge, helpful networks, funding, and markets to make them more investable, scalable, and ready to leave the market. It will be a three-year program where people work together in groups. Each group will work together for one year. Grindstone will bring in ten of the best South African businesses that women start every year.
The program will assist 30 women in total. Grindstone will prioritize employing African, Colored, and Indian entrepreneurs, young people, people with impairments, and residents of less affluent areas to ensure a major impact. Interested candidates should apply here.
Grindstone Partner Keet van Zyl said about the accelerator, “There is so much untapped female entrepreneurial talent in South Africa, and we need to get creative about how to find it on a large scale.
Value-adding partnerships between innovative corporations like Naspers Labs and engineering startup growth programs like Grindstone focus on tailoring interventions for founders that positively affect the metrics of their businesses.
Business strategy reviews, go-to-market planning, funding readiness preparation, networking, business coaching from exceptional coaches, including some of the Grindstone Alumni companies that have successfully scaled their businesses, and funding support from Naspers Labs are among the tailored interventions of the program.
Head of Naspers Labs Mapule Ncanywa was excited about the partnership. He said, “We are honored to be able to invite our country’s talented startups that women started to apply for the GrindstoneX accelerator program.”At Naspers Labs, we are committed to helping small businesses grow, especially those run by young women. Through this partnership, we want to help the tech industry and the economy grow by bringing out the best in startups that women started.