Startups from Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Rwanda and Ghana have been named country winners of the MEST Africa Challenge, earning their places in the grand final and the chance of winning US$50,000 in equity investment.
Run by pan-African training programme, seed fund, incubator and hub the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), the MEST Africa Challenge is aimed at post-revenue, tech-enabled startups that want to expand into new markets.
The challenge, which last year had three winners, is open to startups in Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sénégal, South Africa and Tanzania, with 83 regional finalists selected oast month to take part in virtual pitch events to select the overall finalists.
The winning startups of each national event will then take part in a competition to win US$50,000 in equity investment, plus access to Microsoft support, coaching, and a continent-wide network of startup hubs.
Five national finals have already taken place, with four more still to come.
The Ethiopia Country Finals took place on June 3, with Debo Engineering, which matches farmers with agro service providers, emerging as the winner. The Kenyan final followed on June 10, and was won by find-an-artisan platform Fundis.
The Ivory Coast event on June 17 was won by ed-tech startup Tutoo+, while another education startup, BAG Innovation, was named winner of the Rwandan competition on June 24. The Ghanaian leg of the competition took place on Wednesday, July 1, and was won by online bookstore Oniocha.
The remaining national finals take place in Tanzania on July 8, Senegal on July 15, Nigeria on July 22, and South Africa on July 29.