Public sector failures offer startups “massive opportunities”

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Public sector failures by African governments are giving the startups that are stepping in to solve them opportunities to grow, meaning the only require the right support to succeed.

That is according to Aaron Fu, managing director of pan-African incubator the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), who was speaking on a panel discussion on African accelerators at last week’s Viva Tech conference in Paris.

“A lot of times when you have public sector failures it actually represents massive opportunities for private startups to actually step in and actually build something at scale,” said Fu.

He used the talk to explain how MEST Africa’s entrepreneur training initiative – which he said is “based on a training programme which is pre-team, and pre-idea” – helps African tech startups focus solely on building their solutions.

“We find it really important to give these aspiring entrepreneurs one year, not just the skills, but this runway where they don’t have to worry about rent or food, because I think a lot of entrepreneurs get distracted along the way, especially in Africa, where they have this product they want to build but then they have to make rent, so they do these consulting projects and that’s where they get distracted,” said Fu.

MEST’s one-year training programme is conducted in Accra, Ghana, and trains selected candidates in software development, business, and entrepreneurship. The organisation is set to hold its annual MEST Africa Summit in Cape Town next month, where global entrepreneurs, investors and executives will discuss the African tech ecosystem.

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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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