SA entrepreneurs join Ghana’s MEST for first time

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South African entrepreneurs have been selected into a cohort at Ghana’s Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) for the first time, and will now gain hands-on training over a 12-month period.

Hot on the heels of the last group of MEST graduates pitching for funding for their startups, a new group of young entrepreneurs has been announced by the Accra-based MEST.

Initially launched in Ghana, MEST accepts Nigerian and Kenyan entrepreneurs-in-training, and in March it announced it would be taking applications for South Africa for the first time. Six South African EITs have been accepted onto the programme, alongside 15 Nigerians, 18 Ghanaians, 16 Kenyans and one individual from Sierra Leone.

It is the most pan-African class of EITs in MEST’s history, with the programme beginning this month. Thousands of applications were received, while over 200 individuals had face-to-face interviews. MEST says it is statistically more difficult to get into one of its programmes than into Harvard.

“While recruiting in the various cities – Accra, Lagos, Nairobi and Cape Town – over the course of the recruitment tour, we met a very diverse and talented group of individuals with desires and dreams to make positive impact on their communities and countries; and they want to do so by creating globally successful software companies,” MEST said.

“This cohort is a unique blend of intellectual intelligence and interesting personalities; fierce competitors with raw drive and ambition, who we’re thrilled to welcome into the MEST family.”

Each individual in the group will receive a US$50,000 scholarship covering their tuition, housing, meals and air travel tickets for their year-long stay in Ghana, where they will receive hands-on training in software development, entrepreneurship, business development, sales and marketing, communications and prototyping.

At the end of the programme, individuals will have pinpointed a problem to solve, formed into teams, focused on developing a robust product, thought through every step of their business plan, and crafted their investor pitches.

The strongest and most promising teams receive between US$50,000 to US$250,000 in equity investment to support the launch of these new businesses, with continued support at the MEST Incubator.

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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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