14 July 2016

WDB and Grovest take stakes in Seed Engine South Africa

WDB Investment Holdings and Grovest, South Africa’s first venture capital company, have invested in Seed Engine, an ICT accelerator that equips entrepreneurs with the skills they need to create, grow and build their businesses.

WDB has taken a 30% stake in Seed Engine, whereas Grovest has acquired a 27,5% stake in the company.

Seed Engine operates through Seed Academy, which delivers entrepreneurial training courses, and Seed Incubator that delivers entrepreneurial business support, coaching and mentoring.

Donna Rachelson, CEO of Seed Engine and Seed Academy, said entrepreneurs are the job creators of the future and these investments have created strategic partnerships that will amplify training, support and funding mechanisms at every stage of the entrepreneurial lifecycle. “It will help unlock well-known barriers the small business sector faces, like access to markets and access to funding.”

“Incubation is not producing the results SA needs and entrepreneurs are battling to build and scale their businesses and create jobs. We take a fresh look at our entrepreneurial system and make quick, sustainable changes that result in jobs, wealth and certainty. Through the WDB and Grovest we will be able to tap into corporate and government relationships and networks that will help Seed Engine reach deeper into the communities and sectors that need the most urgent support,” she said.

Grovest brings an in-depth understanding of the entrepreneur and venture capital ecosystems, a solid track record of successful investments and over 100 years combined management experience in capital raising, listings, MBOs and trade sales.

WDB, incorporating the WDB Trust and WDB Investment Holdings, has a 25 years’ track record of delivering high-impact socio-economic programmes that directly improve people’s lives.

Faith Khanyile, CEO of WDB, owned and run by women for women, said its investment brings together a common concern that these organisations are working to address, the transformation of South Africa’s economy by developing sustainable entrepreneurial businesses.

“We liked Seed Engine’s emphasis on black women and youth-owned businesses. We were impressed that their programmes have trained 600 entrepreneurs, created and supported 300 enterprises and an average of three jobs per enterprise. Seed Engine has touch points at every step of the way of the business life-cycle from startup through to sustainable SMEs and successful suppliers,” she said.

“Our investment is likely to increase to 51% and as a women’s company, we have an appropriate bias towards empowering female entrepreneurs and being a meaningful active investor. The partnership serves both the business and social agenda of WDB,” she added.

Rachelson said Seed Engine was impressed that some 180 000 rural women had benefited from WDB Trust loans worth more than R400-million, 3000 women had received literacy and basic business skills training, and over 300 permanent jobs had been created by the WDB Group since inception.

“The BEE deals of the past are no longer relevant. We want to create genuine mechanisms to expand SA’s ‘missing middle’. There is no doubt, that the investment by a black-owned entity focused on impact investments will cement Seed Academy’s position in enterprise and supplier development in South Africa,” she said. Source: Asoko Insight