MEST expands into Kenya, plans incubators across Africa

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The Ghana-based Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) has expanded into Kenya for the first time, and is currently recruiting entrepreneurs wishing to spend one year undertaking an intensive training programme in Accra.

The MEST programme offers Kenyan entrepreneurs and techies the chance to launch their own software company with potential for seed investment opportunities, with Kenya the second country after Nigeria the incubator has expanded to outside of Ghana.

Applications are open from now until June 1 for the programme, which starts in August, with MEST saying it offers intensive hands-on training in software development and entrepreneurship, as well as free housing, a monthly stipend, meals and a laptop. Seed funding, mentoring and access to the MEST network are also included.

MEST is also planning on expanding the reach of its incubator programme across the continent, with plans for new locations and mentor networks in Nairobi, Lagos, Cape Town and Johannesburg, in addition to the original incubator complex in Accra.

“We’ve found the diversification of students in Nigeria and Ghana exponentially increase the business ideas that come from this kind of meeting of the minds. We can only imagine the ripple effect of adding even more perspectives from across the continent,” said Ekua Odoom, managing director of the MEST training programme.

MEST has also shifted its programme from two to one years, which Odoom said will hopefully allow a broader number and variety of candidates to take part. It is also currently recruiting in Nigeria.

Neal Hansch, managing director of MEST, said the scope and resources of the incubator programme are unique.

“Now our future graduating entrepreneurs-in-training will have the ability to launch and have support for their companies in their home countries, after completing the one-year training programme in Ghana, while also allowing our current companies to more easily access new markets as they grow their businesses,” he said.

MEST will be entering into strategic corporate partnerships in each market, with partners assisting its programme entry into the new cities.

“This will truly be a game-changer for our organization and companies incubated at MEST,” said Hansch. “This expansion enables a clear network effect amongst our points of presence and helps empower MEST portfolio companies to reach broader audiences of potential consumers, clients and partners.”

MEST was launched in 2008 and has invested US$15 million into its training, incubation and investment programme since. It recently partnered Samsung in an initiative that aims to provide more opportunities, resources and tools to West African entrepreneurs.

Samsung will be involved from the early stages of the MEST incubation process, providing subsidised devices and the opportunity for entrepreneurs in training to apply for internship positions at Samsung. Samsung Enterprise Business Partners in Nigeria will also have the opportunity to invest in MEST companies.

“A major objective for MEST in 2015 is bringing on board strategic partners who can support our mission to empower hundreds of tech entrepreneurs in Africa,” said Hansch.

“We can’t think of a better or well-equipped partner in the space and are very honoured to have Samsung formally join us in our efforts and further catalyse growth in the African tech market.”

Disrupt Africa has reported recently on a number of MEST startups, recently Vestracker, Beam and Suba.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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