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UNICEF Startup Lab, KOICA and MEST partner to support Ghanaian startups promoting SDGs

KOICA, MEST Africa, UNICEF Startup Lab partner to support startups under the "KOICA-UNICEF Accelerating Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Ghana" project.

UNICEF Startup Lab, KOICA and MEST partner to support Ghanaian startups promoting SDGs
L-R: UNICEF's Fiachra McAsey and KOICA's Mr Seungmin Oh

In collaboration with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and MEST Africa, UNICEF Startup Lab has partnered to support Ghanaian startups under the "KOICA-UNICEF Accelerating Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Ghana" project.

Established in 2019 and situated in Accra, Ghana, the UNICEF Startup Lab is an accelerator program that supports early-stage, tech-enabled startups working towards advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for children and young people. The selected startups  It has accelerated over 50 startups from across Ghana, including by investing over $100,000

The Republic of Korea established the KOICA in 1991 as a governmental organisation to implement the Korean government’s grant aid and technical programs. Its Ghana office has supported and implemented developmental programs across four sectors—Public Health, Agricultural, Rural Development, Education, and Governance.

Founded in Ghana, MEST is a pan-African software and entrepreneurship training program, seed fund, and incubator helping to launch technology startups across the continent.

On June 22, 2023, at the Demo Day, 20 Ghanaian startups graduated from the UNICEF Startup Lab following an intensive six-month accelerator program. The startups gained valuable access to a network of experts from UNICEF, KOICA, and MEST, offering significant guidance and fostering networking and investment opportunities. Moreover, qualified companies were given dedicated assistance towards achieving recognition as a UN-recognized Digital Public Good. Each selected startup received up to GHS 25,000 ($2,200) in prototyping funding and immersive and hands-on business acceleration support throughout the program.

Now in its third year, the UNICEF StartUp Lab has accelerated over 50 Ghanaian startups and invested over $100,000.

UNICEF Deputy Representative in Ghana, Fiachra McAsey, said, "We continue to be inspired by this new cohort of talented startups, who are leveraging digital technology and their business acumen to build new products and services to tackle some of the most difficult challenges faced by young people in Ghana today."

The Acting Country Director of KOICA Ghana, Mr Seungmin Oh, said, "KOICA firmly believes in the transformative power of entrepreneurship and innovation. We recognize the importance of creating an enabling environment that fosters creativity, provides necessary resources, and encourages collaboration...we will continue to invest in programs that empower young entrepreneurs and equip them with the skills, resources, and networks needed to thrive in today's competitive landscape."

The Korean Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Ambassador Lim Jung-Taek, said, “The Republic of Korea is honoured to have been a part of this transformative initiative, which has nurtured the seeds of entrepreneurship and paved the way for a brighter future for these talented individuals.

He said, "South Korea has long been a testament to the power of technology-driven progress which has seen it invest more than 4% of its GDP in research and development, fuelling groundbreaking discoveries and fostering an environment that thrives on innovation.

This commitment to technological advancement has yielded incredible results, giving rise to global companies that have left an indelible mark on various industries."

Gerhard Malah, MEST's UNICEF StartUp Lab Program Manager, said, "We are thrilled to witness the successful completion of another cohort in the UNICEF StartUp Lab.

As these entrepreneurs graduate from the program, we have full confidence in their ability to make significant strides in developing and refining their businesses, ultimately serving their communities in even more impactful ways."

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