Cape Town-based fund manager Knife Capital has launched a new programme designed to help CEOs of existing high-growth entrepreneurial businesses take their companies to the next level.
Knife Capital’s nine-month accelerator programme, Grindstone, aims to guide business owners and managers through an intensive review of their strategies and provide them with the necessary support to scale their businesses and attract growth investment.

Grindstone is described as part-business accelerator, part-investor and part-advisor and is believed to be the first programme of its kind in South Africa.

It is designed to draw a CEO’s attention to business areas outside of their core area of expertise; it will focus on strengthening the management skills and support structures of CEOs who have exciting products and viable businesses that can scale.

Andrea Böhmert, director of Knife Capital and the person in charge of Grindstone, explains: “Often, the reason that businesses do not grow and excel is not because they’re bad at what they do.

“Usually they are very good in their core business but neglect areas outside their comfort zone such as human resources management, finances, compliance or sales and marketing, which can inhibit growth and, in some cases, cause a company to fail.”

Grindstone will help managers identify the strengths and weaknesses of their businesses and show them how to implement their growth strategy.

A recent study by US-based Stanford University found that an increasing number of top CEOs are seeking outside mentorship and coaching to deal with the fact that “it’s lonely at the top”.

“We see the same situation here,” says Böhmert. “But we believe leaders of smaller companies with potential to grow also feel isolated and deserve external help as well as an appropriate peer network. Grindstone fills that gap.”

To be considered for Grindstone, applicants need to apply before 23 August 2013. An initial 50 companies will be identified, and 10 will be selected for the nine-month Grindstone acceleration programme.