MEST Africa, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, has opened applications for the first cohort of the MEST Express accelerator, focused on accelerating startups within the sustainable technology solutions sector.
The Foundation in collaboration with the pan-African technology innovation hub is looking to support startups in Ghana that are using technology to create a sustainable future for all, under the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Impact-driven entrepreneurs, building sustainable revenue-generating startups are invited to apply here.
Participating startups will receive an upfront equity-free funding of $5,000 towards enhancing their business growth. Startups with female founders or with senior female staff members are especially encouraged to apply. After two years of running six cohorts and supporting 56 startups, the accelerator program is refining its focus and mode of delivery to ensure better growth outcomes.
“Our next cohort for the MEST Express accelerator is focused on sustainable startups because solving core problems in Africa often involves looking at how we can create sustainable solutions that positively impact our communities. Sustainability opens up a unique opportunity for African entrepreneurs, as it confronts real problem areas with high visibility and universal interest. The fundamental nature of the problems addressed, guarantee the markets are sizable and present opportunities to merge impact with profitability,” said Femi Adewumi, Director of Programs, MEST Africa.
“After two years of running six cohorts and supporting several startups, our findings also show that ventures benefit more when the support we offer is bespoke and addresses the unique challenges of each business. As such, this upcoming cohort will offer startups deeper support where specific projects will be instituted and managed throughout the program to address the unique needs of the venture,” he added.
The program will run virtually with occasional in-person sessions held in Accra. Six startups will be selected to participate in the five-month acceleration program designed to support these businesses, increase their impact, and become investment ready. At the start of the program, each startup will take part in a series of bespoke diagnostic sessions to establish the critical needs of the startup. For the duration of the program, participating startups, with the help of the program experts, will work towards addressing these gaps in sales, marketing and branding, product, operations, and finance and investments.
“Our partnership with MEST continues to support, scale, and drive innovation within the startup ecosystem in Ghana, by eliminating the barriers that might be holding startups back. As this new cohort commences, we look forward to seeing new ideas, innovative technology, and sustainable solutions that will create work opportunities for young Ghanaian women and men. Also, this initiative will contribute to positioning Ghana as a pulsating technological hub in Africa,” commented Rosy Fynn, Ghana Country Head at the Mastercard Foundation.
To date, MEST Express has accelerated more than 50 startups and awarded over $100, 000 in equity free funding to 12 startups in Ghana. Recently, the program launched its very first cohort in Kumasi, in partnership with hapaSpace, following the success of its first partner cohort in Tamale with HOPin Academy.
Applications for the next cohort, based in Accra, are open now through 10th July, 2022. Startups can apply at meltwater.org/mest-express.
MEST is an Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for technology startups in Africa, built on the idea that talent is everywhere, but the opportunity is not. Founded in Ghana in 2008, MEST provides critical skills training, funding, and support in software development, business, and communications to Africa’s tech entrepreneurs. Hubs are located in Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; Cape Town, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya. To date, MEST has invested in over 80 startups across industries from SaaS and consumer internet, to eCommerce, Digital Media, Agritech, Fintech, and Healthcare IT. MEST is primarily funded by the Meltwater Foundation; the non-profit arm of Meltwater, a global leader in media intelligence and Outside Insight.
Leveraging MEST’s core competencies, a decade plus of learning, extensive network, and existing intellectual property, in 2020 and beyond, MEST is partnering with the Mastercard Foundation to design and test three pilot programs with local partners in Ghana. The projects—Pre-MEST, MEST Express, and MEST Scale— will enable MEST to scale its impact and reach exponentially more young people at more touch points along their entrepreneurial and employment journey in Ghana, and in time, across the continent.
ABOUT THE MASTERCARD FOUNDATION
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.
For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org
ABOUT YOUNG AFRICA WORKS
Young Africa Works is the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy to enable 30 million young Africans, 70 percent of whom will be young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work. Africa will be home to the world’s largest workforce, with 375 million young people entering the job market by 2030. With the right skills, these young people will contribute to Africa’s global competitiveness and improve their lives and those of their communities. The Mastercard Foundation will implement Young Africa Works in 10 African countries in collaboration with governments, private sector, entrepreneurs, educators, and young people. The first phase of countries identified by the Mastercard Foundation are Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Nigeria.
Amenorhu kwaku is an author, internet marketer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of SuccessValley, a network community for students and aspiring entrepreneurs