Pan-African entrepreneurial training program, seed fund, and incubator MEST today announced the launch of two new Incubator spaces in Lagos, Nigeria, and Cape Town, South Africa, as the program continues to expand its presence across the continent. The spaces will join the flagship headquartered in Accra, Ghana, as part of a growing Pan-African network of MEST Incubators.
MEST Incubators in Lagos and Cape Town will act as an extension of the Accra community, offering entrepreneurs the same support, skilled staff, mentorship, network and resources enjoyed in Ghana, as well as a number of curated events in an effort to bring together the African tech community – catering to everyone from startup founders and teams, to investors and corporate executives.
As well, the spaces will add a new pillar to the MEST offering: co-working. Core pillars of MEST include a 1-year technology training program in Ghana for African entrepreneurs, followed by potential seed funding and incubation for MEST portfolio companies in Pan-African incubator spaces. The new co-working offering will invite local entrepreneurs to apply to join the MEST Incubator space as well, opening the community up to startups who did not graduate from the MEST training program.
Members of the MEST Incubator will find hot desks and private office packages in each location, joining a curated, Pan-African community of entrepreneurs and innovators working in technology, venture capital, digital and media, with the goal of bringing together the brightest minds in each field.
Following a soft launch during Lagos Startup Week, the MEST Incubator Lagos, led by General Manager Neku Atawodi-Edun and located at 19b Adeyemi Lawson, Ikoyi, will officially open on 21st November.
“With its 9-year track record in Ghana, we are glad to finally see MEST expand their footprint into Nigeria,” said Lagos State Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr. Tunde Durosinmi-Etti, on the launch. “This new incubator in Nigeria’s economic centre, Lagos, is a strategic move towards partnering with the state government in changing the future economy of the state through its support for new businesses, empowering millennials and providing more jobs.”
The MEST Incubator Cape Town will launch in the former Cape Town Garage, located in Woodstock Exchange on Albert Road, taking over the space and welcoming the existing community. Official launch to be celebrated on Thursday, 23rd November.
“As a South Africa-based VC, we’re thrilled about MEST’s South African expansion,” said Andrea Böhmert, Partner & Co-Founder, Knife Capital. “MEST has a unique offering that combines capacity-building with access to funding and a global network, in an effort to create globally successful entrepreneurs. Their presence will certainly add to the dynamic startup community in Cape Town and further fuel growth on the continent.”
MEST Managing Director Aaron Fu notes, “We’re extremely excited to enter the Nigerian and South African markets with the launch of our new incubator spaces. Lagos and Cape Town are home to an enormous amount of ambitious tech talent with massive potential. We also look forward to welcoming companies from the larger local community to join our Pan-African network of like-minded entrepreneurs.” Fu recently joined the MEST team as Managing Director, from NEST.vc and Metta, both central players in the Kenyan tech eco-system.
MEST established an initial footprint in Nigeria in 2015 and South Africa in 2016, with the first class of Nigerian and South African Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs) accepted into the program. Today, MEST is truly Pan-African, with a presence in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire.
MEST entrepreneurs have developed solutions addressing local and global markets, received outside follow-on funding from global investors, and have gained admittance to top accelerator programs such as Y-Combinator, 500 Startups and TechStars. MEST entrepreneurs have also been selected by President Obama as representatives of the African business community at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. and have been named Mandela Washington Fellows, a flagship program of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Corporate strategic partners include Samsung, Vodafone and Facebook’s internet.org—all of which have a shared interest in bolstering the emerging tech ecosystem in Africa as means to economic growth.
Since its inception, the Meltwater Foundation has invested $20 million into its training program, the MEST incubator network, and early stage MEST tech startups.