Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to the questions we get asked the most about engaging with E Squared.

Engagement Questions

What is E Squared Investments?

E Squared is an investor that seeks financial returns and social impact by investing in businesses owned and led by Eligible Allan Gray Fellows as well as Public Benefit Organisations (PBOs). 

What is impact investing?

Impact investing refers to investments made into companies, organisations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return. At E2 we define social impact as job creation, promoting equality and poverty alleviation.

What is Responsible Entrepreneurship?

Responsible entrepreneurship is an intentional approach to business conduct in a manner that respects and honours the rule of law, the dignity of all people and contributes to the improved well-being of all stakeholders.

Responsible entrepreneurs are the primary catalyst for the vitally important function of job creation in South Africa. If they are successful, they will become self-sustaining and their profits can finance further growth. They will create further employment opportunities and generate tax revenues to fund essential government initiatives.

How do I become an Allan Gray Fellow?

Entry into the Allan Gray Fellowship is through an application and selection process managed under the auspices of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation:

For the Scholarship Programme:

For the Fellowship Programme:

What types of funding does E Squared provide?

E Squared provides a range of funding solutions that are tailored to the needs and life stages of each applicant’s business.

At the ideation stage: E Squared provides grant funding of up to R30,000, called the Start-up Challenge Award. The aim of the Award is to enable applicants to validate their business concepts.

At the validation stage: E Squared provides grant funding of up to R60,000, called the Creation Award. The aim of the Award is to enable applicants to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test in the market.

At the seed stage: E Squared runs an accelerator programme called the E Squared Elevator which is an intensive and bespoke business accelerator programme. The programme aims to assist Fellow entrepreneurs in building high performance teams, equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to build and scale high impact, businesses and prepare them for commercial investment.

Commercial investment: E Squared provides long-term, patient commercial investment funding to businesses from seed stage through to mature businesses looking for growth capital. E Squared is sector and instrument agnostic and tailors investment to the needs of each business.

What non-financial support does E Squared provide?

E Squared offers bespoke non-financial support ranging from our Elevator Business Accelerator to targeted workshops addressing specific areas for investee companies. Support interventions invariably involve pairing founding teams with industry and professional experts, coaches and/or mentors to support and enhance business growth, performance and impact.

Our process comprises deep-dive analysis of the business operation, leadership team and other related elements, which inform the solutions that provided to address identified challenges and opportunities.

What industry sectors does E Squared support?

We are sector agnostic and support responsible businesses across all industry sectors with the exclusion of businesses that that can reasonably be deemed irresponsible, unethical, immoral, illegal and not in the public interest. 

Can I participate in the E Squared Elevator if I am not based in Johannesburg?

The accelerator is open to all eligible Fellows, but will be run from Johannesburg. Selected applicants from outside Gauteng are eligible to apply for board and accommodation in close proximity to the selected site from where programme activities are run.

What does E Squared do?

The objective of E2 is to advance the vision of an economically inclusive South Africa with meaningful opportunity for everyone by providing financial resources and support, on a discretionary basis, to Eligible Allan Gray Fellows and Social Enterprises in order to establish successful business enterprises. 

We achieve this through:

  1. The provision of customised funding solutions as well as, non-financial, pre and post-investment support at all stages of the business life cycle of Allan Gray Fellow owned or led businesses 
  2. The provision of financial and non-financial support to Social Enterprises, specifically registered Public Benefit Organisations (PBOs), that lead catalytic impact in progressing the youth development agenda in South Africa. Social enterprises may be led by non-Allan Gray Fellows.
How does E Squared define high impact business?

E Squared defines high impact businesses as those that have the potential to meaningfully add value to their stakeholders and ultimately South Africa by addressing specific challenges and unlocking new markets.

What is an eligible Allan Gray Fellow?

An Eligible Allan Gray Fellow is an Allan Gray Fellow who satisfies the following criteria:

  1. They must be a South African citizen
  2. They must have fulfilled all the requirements of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellowship Programme
  3. They should have had work experience following graduation, as is deemed sufficient by the Trustees; and
  4. They must remain in good standing, in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellowship Programme
Who can apply for funding from E Squared?

Eligible Allan Gray Fellows and social enterprises, defined as registered Public Benefit Organisations (PBOs), can apply for funding from E Squared.

How do I apply for funding?

Start-up Challenge Award – click here

Creation Award – click here

E Squared Elevator – click here

Commercial investment funding – click here

How do I apply for non-financial support from E Squared?

Contact the E Squared team at  

When does the E Squared Elevator run and how do I apply?

The E Squared Elevator is open to Eligible Allan Gray Fellow entrepreneurs involved in full time strategic and daily operational management of the participating business entity and runs twice a year runs over 6-month intervals. Programme applications open 6 weeks before commencement of the programme.

Grievance Process

What is E Squared's grievance process? 

In the event that you are dissatisfied with, or misunderstand, your engagement with the E2 team, we propose the following guidelines to manage the issue in a timeous and effective way:

Step 1:

  • The Fellow is encouraged to first speak to the E Squared team member involved and present their point of dissatisfaction.
  • The communication may be on email, telephonically, through a face-to-face interaction or any manner which is considered appropriate.
  • The E Squared team member and Fellow are encouraged to resolve the matter in a mutually appropriate manner.
  • The matter is expected to be amicably resolved within 14 days of the initial communication.
  • If after following Step 1 the Fellow is still dissatisfied with the outcome or response of the E Squared team member, the Fellow is encouraged to proceed to Step 2 below.

Step 2:

  • The Fellow is encouraged to submit a written notice to the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of E Squared
  • This written notice should include the following:
  • The context of the occurrence, the team member involved and the outcome of Step 1 above.
  • The Fellow should also propose a possible remedy for the issue, and;
  • The Fellow to submit this as soon as practical but no later than 14 days after an unresolved out-come from Step 1.
  • The E Squared CEO’s mandate is to resolve the matter within 14 days.
  • If after the proceedings in Step 2, the Fellow is still not satisfied, we propose the third and final step as follows:

Step 3:

  • The Fellow should then submit a written notice to the Chairman of the E Squared Board within 14 days, after an unresolved outcome from Step 2.
  • The written notice should include the context of the issue and the outcomes of previous steps.
  • The Chairperson will be required to respond to the Fellow within 14 days of receipt of the written notice with the relevant details of the next steps.
  • The Chairperson may solicit the assistance of other board members as necessary to reach a ruling.
  • The ruling by the Chairperson will be deemed final.


When should I consider following the formal grievance process?

The process has been developed to resolve disagreements relating to interactions Fellows have had with E Squared. We are very aware that in day-to-day dealings with Fellows, misunderstandings may occur. Our aim is to resolve these issues in an amicable and constructive manner.

Application Process

How long does it take to process my application for an E Squared commercial investment?

This depends on the application in question, however the Investment Team aims to take an application through the process within 3 months from the application date

How do I contest an unfavourable outcome for my E Squared commercial investment application?

Please refer to the grievance process section

How long does it take to process my application for the Creation Award?

The process typically takes 2 weeks from the date of application.

What am I required to provide in support of my E Squared Elevator application?
  • Certified colour ID copies of all business owner(s)
  • Company registration documents
  • Proof of traction: (latest 6 months business bank statements and/or 6 months monthly management reports/accounts or most recent signed annual financials)
  • A copy of your up to date Annual Return (lodged with CIPC)
  • Your latest B-BBEE letter/affidavit
  • A copy of your tax clearance certificate or your SARS tax clearance pin
  • A letter from the bank confirming your business bank details or a stamped business bank statement not older than 3 months.
  • Supporting motivation letter from IVC or any business or personal Mentor
What am I required to provide in support of my E Squared commercial investment application?

Upon receipt of your application, a member of the Investment Team will contact you to discuss the relevant supporting documentation

How long does it take to process my application for the Start-up Challenge Award?

The process typically takes 2 weeks from the date of application.

How long does it take to process my application for the E Squared Elevator?

Feedback on application is provided within 7 working days of the closing date for cohort applications, with shortlisted applicants invited to participate in person interview and baseline assessments. Final confirmation of acceptance into the progranmme is issued within 21 working days from the closing date for cohort applications.

How do I contest an unfavourable outcome for my E Squared Elevator application?

Please refer to the grievance process section

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