be prepared


The SA SME Fund was established by members of the CEO Initiative – a collaboration between government, labour and business to address some of the most pressing challenges to the country’s economic growth – as an avenue of support for the SME sector.

The SA SME Fund is partnering with AfricArena – Africa's premier ecosystem accelerator – to identify tech-based small-to-medium enterprises (SME) in South Africa that have high potential for scale. This joint initiative, the SA Startup Nation Challenge, is seeking Pre-Series A tech start-ups incorporated in South Africa and which have distinctive product market fit, technology and founding team to scale up.


- Are incorporated and are operating in South Africa as private entities (i.e. Pty. Ltd.)
- Are utilizing technology in an innovative way as part of their product or service offering
- Have South African founders/owners/managers
- Have strong leadership team with defined roles 
- Have considerable year-to-year growth and market traction


The SA SME Fund invests in funds that support and
develop entrepreneurs.

We are mandated – through our partner funds – to invest 50% of our capital into black-African owned and managed businesses, with a further 25% being dedicated to Indian and Coloured owned and managed businesses, with the remaining 25% being at the discretion of the fund manager.

The businesses that our funds invest in typically have an enterprise value of

Submission Requirements


For this challenge we will consider only:

Startups/SMEs that are incorporated and operating in South Africa


- Startups apply on the AfricArena Startup Portal  
- All applications will be shortlisted to 12 SMEs. 
- The 12 SMEs will pitch at events hosted by AfricArena in Cape Town (3 September 2019) and Johannesburg (10 September)

Submit to Win

Prizes & rewards


*For the five selected startups*

Meet key actors of the tech ecosystem in Africa, including  investors, VCs, and corporations looking talent to partner with.


- Out of the 12, 5 finalists will be selected to pitch and showcase at the AfricArena Summit in Cape Town in November 11-12th 2019.
- The Top 3 SMEs post-Summit will earn several benefits, including a trip to Viva Tech in Paris in May 2020 to showcase to the biggest European tech event of the year.


*For the selected startup*

FREE VIP entrance to the event

FREE flight ticket to Cape Town 

FREE accommodation in Cape Town