Savant 2022 – Year in Review

At Savant we believe in teamwork. We believe that collaboration and networking are the cornerstones of any successful venture and are key factors to a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem, essential for transforming innovative ideas into successful, high-growth businesses.


Growth never happens in isolation. 

If ever a year bore testimony to teamwork it was this year!  A remarkable team, a supportive and engaged ecosystem, and a lot of hard work has seen Savant enjoy a year of significant growth. We also moved into our new offices where we have already hosted a number of our colleagues and friends.

In October 2021 we launched the Sibanye-Stillwater iXS programme, which is run by Savant. This is an innovation investment initiative that is aimed at identifying, incubating, developing and scaling innovators and innovations with solutions for a modern mining and mineral ecosystem.

In addition to this we launched our 2022 BUILD Programme with Sibanye-Stillwater iXS, and the conclusion of the call outs saw the acceptance of four new companies into the programme. We are very excited to walk their journey with them.

We also launched the 2023 EIR and IIR Programmes – and seven of our start-ups were awarded pre-seed funding from TIAWe have also seen wonderful growth in our portfolio companies. We even saw one of them literally reach for the stars, with Hypernova, who are soon to launch their thrusters into space for the first time.

And our colleague Thaheer Mullins, continued his growth at Savant and is now a Partner. You can read about his journey here. 

As a team we feel that within this amazing ecosystem anything is possible. Thank you to everyone who has joined us on this journey so far.

To round off this amazing year we asked our team to share their highlights and their lessons learned from the year that was 2022.


Nick Allen | CEO and Managing Partner

2022 has been a seminal year for Savant, as the efforts of many previous years begin to coalesce into a cohesive effort to effectively, efficiently and successfully support and fund early stage hardware technology businesses. Developments over the past year that I have been particularly proud of are:

  • Successfully rolling out the Sibanye-Stillwater iXS programme – getting corporate support for early stage hardware innovation is a major milestone
  • Onboarding a fantastic group of EIRs (Zandile, Kobus and Thabelo) and IIRs (Ipeleng and Ryno) – further proving the value of these programmes
  • Launching our first Build programme, to ensure companies are investment ready when they look to raise their first funds
  • Establishing a structured mentorship programme, vetting and selecting 30+ fantastic mentors to work hand in hand with our companies – a key ingredient in startup success!
  • And, completing 19 investments across the 3 Funds Savant manages.

The progress made this year will resonate and multiply over the years ahead.


Francois Malan | Savant Technology Incubator CEO, Partner at Savant Venture Fund

From an incubator perspective we had a very productive year – we moved into new offices, managed to get eight new seed-stage projects funded, continued to support our portfolio of ~30 early-stage businesses and also renewed our MoA with Seda for a further two years, to continue receiving support for incubator baseline operating expenses.


Kate Turner-Smith | Investment Manager and COO

Savant has had an exciting watershed year in 2022. We onboarded three excellent EIRs and two IIRS which have complimented our team very well. We also hired David and Sahil as Commercialisation Managers. We partnered with Sibanye-Stillwater in the IXS programme, and launched our first ever structured cohort (the Sibanye-Stillwater and Savant BUILD programme). And, the Fund improved its performance in terms of deployment of capital and had nine VC deals approved by the IC.

“This year we laid the groundwork for creating greater value and offerings for the start-ups we serve. We are very excited about the coming year.”


Thaheer Mullins | Partner

2022 was a productive year. We had investment committee approval for nine VC deals, two of which were follow-ons. It shows that we really found our groove as a team and an organisation. All of these deals had a co-investment element, so we’ve managed to pick up a few allies along the way too. A big learning there was that if the fundamentals are in place and the price is right, we’re willing to work to make the deal happen.

Some highlights: I spoke on three multinational panels, covering nascent tech verticals for VC, funding AG Tech and retaining talent in Africa. Links with re-usable media:



Sahil Affriya | Commercialisation Manager

This year, Savant has taught me more than I could have imagined. Working with a team of excellent engineers turned investors is an absolute pleasure. In the iXS programme with Sibanye-Stillwater, we reviewed more than 80 start-ups and invested in four of them.
I also got the chance to visit and experience the startup ecosystems in Namibia, Kenya, and Senegal.
2022 has been the year where we laid the groundwork for creating greater value and offerings for the start-ups we serve. We are very excited about the coming year.


David Rabinowitz | Commercialisation Manager

Working closely with the companies on our BUILD programme has made me realize the real impact entrepreneurs have in South Africa. The growth I have seen in each company in the past few months has been incredible. Each workshop and one-on-one session shows me that start-ups are building the foundation layers of a successful business. I am excited to see what these companies will accomplish in 2023.

I am incredibly grateful to all our advisors and partners who have assisted us in the programme thus far. They have provided each start-up with additional fuel to help them grow their businesses.


Kobus Cilliers | Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR)

This year has been an extraordinary adventure. Pivoting into an entirely new career can often be challenging, but the Savant family welcomed me into the fold and supported me every step of the way. Through my time at Savant I have learned an incredible amount, not just about the world of Start-ups and Venture Capitalism but also about trust, friendship, camaraderie, and teamwork.

This year has included a myriad of highlights, but the ones that I remember most fondly are:

  • the launch of the BUILD Programme,
  • our portfolio company visit to Johannesburg,
  • getting my first deal approved,
  • and being invited to be a panelist at the World Circular Economy Forum.


Thabelo Ratshihule | Entrepreneur in residence (EIR)

Upon joining Savant, I had the privilege of achieving personal growth and contributing in growing others through my entrepreneurial mentorship to portfolio start-ups. In the past year I have rediscovered a meaningful purpose in creating growth opportunities for others and making positive contributions to the communities we engage with.

Savant has given me the chance to learn from some of South Africa’s top founders and inventors, in addition to allowing me to put my MBA knowledge into practice. I look forward to taking these learnings into the future and continuing to contribute to the entrepreneurship ecosystem.


Zandile Ntuli | Entrepreneur in residence (EIR)

The last eight months at Savant have been an incredible learning path. There is no shortage of challenges and opportunities – and the Savant team is always willing to support and encourage where necessary. In addition, the exposure to the VC ecosystem and incubator world is priceless, and I have gained many competencies in these spaces.

“You don’t realize how much you have grown until you talk to new portfolio companies and founders.”

Then, you start asking the right questions, asking for the correct information, and calling out the immediate challenges and opportunities, while a few months back, you would have been blank.

In closing, the year has been bright and full of magic seeds 😊, and now I look forward to the already sprouting magic plants.



Savant Logo

Thank you for subscribing to Savant. Please follow us on social media and link to Twitter and LinkedIn?