Grindstone and Naspers Labs have announced the 10 women-led startups selected for their South African women-focused accelerator program, GrindstoneX. The shortlisted businesses include Africa Beyond 4IR, Blushproof, Chicken Bar, Four Minute Medicine, Seponono Africa, Abaguquli, Thetha Digital, Tsehla Holdings, Wisi-oi Marketplace, and Young Rebels Marketing.
The GrindstoneX accelerator was launched in September 2022 with financial support from Naspers Labs. It aims to help more women-founded businesses become scalable, attractive to investors and exit-ready. The accelerator will do this by assessing the startups and offering them interventions based on their business needs. The interventions may include business strategy, go-to-market planning, funding readiness and networking, and expert business coaching, including mentorship and advice from Grindstone Alumni companies that have successfully scaled or exited their businesses.
The start-ups shortlisted for GrindstoneX operate in various sectors including hydroponics, branding and web development, fashion marketplace, online education, and digital empowerment through animation, gaming, and virtual reality. The program director, Nonceba Qabazi, said the start-ups selected for GrindstoneX all have one thing in common: the ingenuity and drive of their women founders.
Learn more about the female founders and their businesses:
Africa Beyond 4IR aspires to ignite a spark of technological advancement and entrepreneurial spirit in marginalized communities by bridging the digital divide in such communities of South Africa. It has programmes that introduce communities to gaming, animation, drones, programming, and virtual reality. It also has an incubation programme for entrepreneurs who run businesses with this technology. Kelebogile Molopyane is the founder of Africa Beyond 41R.
Blushproof employs ecommerce and payment technology to promote women’s empowerment through its product—leak-proof reusable period panties. The products are reusable, enabling women to save money on period expenses and also spare the environment the pollution that non-biodegradable tampons and pads cause. Blush was founded by Thandi Hartmann.
Founded by Asanda Maqbuka, Chicken Bar is a food business riding the wave of health-conscious dining. The restaurant uses an online delivery service to deliver chicken meals to the doorstep of customers. Chicken Bar also has a growing franchise, which uses computerised pricing and management software to serve its franchise owners.
Four Minute Medicine works with a network of specialists, generalists, and medical students to produce evidence-based teaching on medical subjects. Its online courses support blended and adaptive learning with e-learning to help students accelerate their professional training. Phinda Njisane is the founder of Four Minute medicine.
Seponono Africa started out selling African print headwraps as corporate gifts before evolving into digital branding. It offers brand consultations, brand design, digital marketing, and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) services to businesses. The founder of Seponono Africa is Tebogo Petlele.
Abaguquli wants to prepare the youth for the fourth industrial revolution through training, information and access to opportunities. It offers training in the development of websites, mobile apps, eCommerce, and chatbots. It also offers education on Arduino electronics, 3D printing, Raspberry, animation, and digital marketing. The founder of Seponono Africa is Aasiyah Adams
Thetha Digital helps businesses create engaging educational content for their target audience. This content can be animations, copywriting, voice-overs, video or audio formats. The startup also partners with Naspers Labs to upskill youth in digital media and edTech. Yan Zhen Xu is the founder of Thetha Digital.
Founded by Roseline Mapuranga, agritech startup Tsehla Holdings is in the business of hydroponics. The startup offers hydroponic tunnel installation services for individuals and organisations. It also offers training on how to manage and grow crops in hydroponic systems.
Wisi-Oi Marketplace is an ecommerce platform that allows sellers to host online stores for pre-loved fashion items. It also facilitates payments and delivers purchased goods to buyers. It also offers shoppers a buy-now-pay-later option that allows them to shop on credit at zero interest. Phumelele Körber is its founder.
Young Rebels started out offering out-of-the-box public relations services and go-to-market strategies to businesses. Now the company specialises in designing communication and emotion-processing games that promote good emotional and mental health among young people. The founder of Young Rebels Marketing is Faith Wesson.