MEST Express accelerator has opened the call for applications for the first
batch of 2022 cohorts. The program, in partnership with Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works, invites early-stage startups in Ghana to apply by 16th January, 2022.
Over the course of 20-weeks, the selected startups will be supported to develop and implement robust business strategies that are fit for African markets with a strong focus on exploring business models and product pivots, improving risk and crisis resilience all geared towards making startups investor-ready.
Graduating startups will have the opportunity to receive equity-free grant funding, from a pool of $20,000, from MEST Africa and the Mastercard Foundation.
MEST Express is open to startups in any industry, and of any business model, registered and operational in Ghana.
Qualifying startups will have been operational for at least a year, have achieved problem-solution fit, are generating revenue and can demonstrate traction. Though the program is mostly virtual, participants should be able to make it to the MEST Campus in Accra for in-person sessions.
Since launching in September 2020, the program has accelerated more than 40 early-stage ventures in Ghana and awarded over $40,000 in grant funding to six startups. Now in its second year, the program will continue to support Ghana’s most promising startups to address their most pressing challenges and needs.
“It’s exciting to see the increasing commitment from both local and global investors towards local African startups in recent times.
As this commitment grows, it is important that local startups match up to expectations and prove themselves as investable high growth businesses and MEST Express is focused on supporting startups to achieve this. By connecting Ghanaian startups to experienced mentors and working them to refine their business models and products, we hope to get them prepared to receive the capital they need to accelerate their growth”, said Ashwin Ravichandran, Managing Director of MEST Africa.
Training for the first 2022 cohort kicks off on 21st February, 2022 - 15th June, 2022. Startups that wish to apply for the program are to complete the following steps:
● Create an F6S account
● Apply using the official application form on F6S
● Applications open - 8th November, 2021
● Applications close - 16th January, 2021
● Program starts - 21st February, 2022
● Program ends - 15th June, 2022
MEST Africa is an African-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for technology startups in Africa. Founded in Ghana in 2008, MEST provides critical skills training, funding, and support in software development, business, and communications to Africa’s tech entrepreneurs. Hubs are located in Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; Cape Town, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya.
To date, MEST has invested in over 80 startups across industries from SaaS and consumer internet, to eCommerce, Digital Media, Agritech, Fintech, and Healthcare IT. MEST is primarily funded by the Meltwater Foundation, the non-profit arm of Meltwater, a global leader in media intelligence.
Leveraging MEST’s core competencies, decade plus of learning, extensive network, and existing intellectual property, in 2020 and beyond, MEST is partnering with the Mastercard Foundation to design and test three pilot programs with local partners in Ghana. The projects—Pre-MEST, MEST Express, and MEST Scale— will enable MEST to scale its impact and reach more young people at more touch points along their entrepreneurial and employment journey in Ghana, and in time, across the continent.
About Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.
For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org
About Young Africa Works
The Mastercard Foundation’s new strategy, Young Africa Works, outlines how, over the next decade, we will focus on finding solutions to the youth employment challenge and reducing poverty in Africa. When young people can secure formal work and a steady wage, their lives improve.
Employment, particularly formal employment, is a leading pathway out of poverty for families. Using youth employment as a measure of our progress, we will work to help millions of young people find a pathway out of poverty.
Our work will ensure 30million young people in Africa, particularly young women, secure dignified and fulfilling work.