The JSE’s Acceleration Programme aims to produce the next generation of large enterprises in SA


Accelerator programmes for SMEs are recognised globally as crucial contributors to economic development and job creation in the long term. In the short term they assist entrepreneurial ventures to scale up quickly and have the potential to fast-track their growth in local and global markets, as well as support more local economic development. While there are a number of such programmes in the country, the one the JSE introduced a year ago is somewhat different.

‘Our solution, the JSE Enterprise Acceleration Programme, is unique in that it offers custom support for companies, as well as masterclasses,’ says Cleola Kunene, the JSE’s SME Development and CX Leader. ‘We also focus strongly on market understanding and expansion opportunities, such as networking and partnerships, funding readiness, access to funding and business valuation.’

Introduced a year ago, the pilot programme of five companies proved so successful that another 15 were brought into the initiative, which continues to evolve, with plans to further step up the number of businesses it can help. Kunene says this aligns well with the country’s national agenda and economic development growth strategies, which are also JSE objectives. ‘More than ever there is a significant need to address investment in the country, increase employment and improve the nation’s competitiveness. SME growth is a fundamental part of this strategy, which the JSE began focusing on some years ago.

‘The bourse has since supported SMEs in several areas, from supplier development, new capital matching solutions, driving policy reform, environment and social governance, and incubator solutions. In essence, what we do is actively put our name and resources behind tangible solutions to expedite growth.’

One such solution is funding. SMEs face significant challenges in accessing funding, not least because many have poor track records. ‘The cycle time to funding can also be long and costly for these enterprises, and requirements are for a number of aspects to be in place to secure financial support. We undertake in-depth analysis of each enterprise by identifying areas that require support and determine its funding readiness and unique key performance indicators.’

Preparing enterprises to be ready to raise capital and overcome other challenges such as supply-chain expansion, access to local and international markets, government and corporate red tape, as well as access to skills (particularly digital), are the type of solutions and masterclasses that the JSE offers, as well as on- and off-exchange funding solutions. There are also think tanks around identified key topics, and access to a global network of mentors through both the JSE and Endeavour, the company that the JSE partnered with to develop and run the programme. Mentors are assigned to each company over and above the standard solutions provided in the programme.

The JSE has many solutions for varying sizes of SA companies, but this specific acceleration programme caters to high-growth, medium-sized businesses that have at least a R20 million in turnover. Participants to date are highly complimentary of the programme.

Five successful ‘graduates’ – Mobiz, Saryx, Sendmarc, Signcraft and Synatic – took just six months to be primed for accelerated growth through market share, access to funding and improvements to their competitiveness.

‘With the right expertise, a strong network of mentors, robust modules and our rich history spanning 134 years in capital markets, the JSE is in the sweet spot of being able to cultivate the future prosperity and business growth of SMEs in our country,’ says Kunene. ‘We use what we’re best at, which includes the JSE’s connecting power and capital-raising ability, and we use it to support companies in their growth journey.’

By Kerry Dimmer
Image: Gallo/Getty Images