Pan-African entrepreneurial training program, seed fund, and incubator MEST has closed its third successful MEST Africa Summit, which saw leading entrepreneurs, investors and corporate executives from Africa and across the globe – including Silicon Valley, Europe and Asia – discussing trends, challenges and opportunities facing tech entrepreneurs on the continent.
Following a showcase of pitches from MEST portfolio company founders, the three-day event culminated in an announcement of the winner of the MEST Africa Challenge; a Pan-African pitch competition which saw Nigeria’s Accounteer awarded $50,000 in equity investment from the Meltwater Foundation, along with space and support in the MEST Incubator Lagos.
MEST expanded its footprint into Nigeria in 2015, Kenya in 2016, and South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire in 2017 by welcoming Nigerian, Kenyan, Ivorian and South African Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs) into the program. Today, the MEST Pan-African vision continues to come to life, with the launch of incubator spaces in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa; and a plan to formally launch its next fully-fledged incubator in Nairobi, Kenya later this year, where entrepreneurs will be offered the same level of support, mentorship, network and access to resources as its other incubators.
Aaron Fu, Managing Director at MEST, says, “We’re thrilled at the outcome of this year’s Summit. We welcomed the continent’s leading entrepreneurs, investors and visionaries for some incredibly engaging discussions around how we can execute on propelling and scaling the continent’s leading tech scaleups, while serving as a celebration of a decade of growth at MEST. The success of this year’s Summit, as a meeting ground for Africa’s top ecosystem partners and enthusiasts, has created a forum for honest discussion about change on the continent which we hope will lead to tangible actions and delivery. I’m also extremely excited about our upcoming incubator launch in Nairobi, as we look to strengthen our Pan-African footprint.”
Since its 2008 launch in Accra, Ghana, MEST has been at the forefront of driving some of the continent’s most successful entrepreneurs – pushing them to scale, while achieving Pan-African and global reach and recognition. MEST has invested over $20M in total funding to date, with portfolio companies going on to receive follow-on funding.
There have been four exits to date (digital insurance claims company Claimsync, ecommerce marketing tools RetailTower and AdGeek and messaging app Saya). More than 50 companies have been funded, with nearly 300 entrepreneurs trained. 400+ highly skilled jobs have been created through their incubator companies with MEST itself seeing 100+ highly skilled job created.
“When MEST was founded a decade ago, the goal was to find a way to create wealth and jobs here in Africa by nurturing the massive amount of talent that exists on the continent. By empowering people to become software entrepreneurs, I believe Africa can take their fair share of the value creation that we know is going to take place in technology and software over the next generation. Today, we’re proud that MEST is the first truly Pan-African tech incubator of its kind,” says Jorn Lyseggen, Founder & CEO of Meltwater and MEST.
As an advocate for innovation in tech, Jorn Lyseggen continues to act as a driving force in bridging the gap between Silicon Valley and the ever-evolving African tech landscape.