Published on 26 Sep 2022

Accelerator aims to help Singaporean start-ups enter South African market

Enterprise Singapore backed initiative to select 10 ventures for eight-week programme

Enterprise Singapore has partnered with accelerator Grindstone to host a programme for 10 Singaporean start-ups that want to expand their businesses to South Africa. The initiative is part of Enterprise Singapore’s mandate to help Singaporean companies grow internationally.

The two-month programme, which kicks off on 26 October, will provide them with coaching and mentoring specifically related to accessing the South African market. The Grindstone team will do some initial group work during the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH), after which it will engage each start-up individually; first remotely and then in South Africa during the entrepreneurs’ visit in mid-November. These companies will be supported in terms of funding and market opportunities for up to six months after the conclusion of the programme.

Catherine Young, a director at Grindstone, told the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies that it will seek to link the Singaporean entrepreneurs with South African corporates as well as start-ups in its network, to explore co-selling opportunities, for example. 

Founded in 2013, Grindstone is owned by venture capital firm Knife Capital and consultancy Thinkroom. Its core business is a structured entrepreneurship development programme that assists high-growth innovation-driven South African start-ups to put the fundamental building blocks in place to scale quickly and become sustainable and fundable. Each year, it selects 20 businesses between Cape Town and Johannesburg to join its course. Grindstone also runs a fund that invests post-seed equity in early-stage innovation and technology companies.

For the Singapore programme, the organisers have a preference for edtech, healthtech, fintech, agritech and cyber security start-ups. However, Young says they would consider those in other industries, adding that she expects some Singaporean infrastructure businesses to apply to the cohort. Young anticipates approximately 60 applications by the closing date, 7 October. Grindstone and Enterprise Singapore will select the final intake of 10 ventures.

Enterprise Singapore is funding the initiative although the start-ups will be responsible for a portion of the costs, including travel to South Africa. Young explains Grindstone will not take equity stakes in the Singaporean businesses but its fund could consider investment further down the line.

According to Jonathan Lim, director for Global Innovation Network at Enterprise Singapore, Africa presents attractive opportunities for Singaporean tech companies because of its large consumer market, rapid digital adoption, industrialisation and urbanisation.



Grindstone partners with EnterpriseSG to bring Singapore startups to SA’, 14 September 2022, TechCabal

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