Top entrepreneurs, investors and executives to converge at third MEST Africa Summit
By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana
Top entrepreneurs, investors and executives from Africa, Silicon Valley and Europe will be meeting at the year’s MEST Africa Summit, which will be held in Cape Town South Africa, from the 18th to 20th of June.
The upcoming summit, now in its third season, will provide the platform for industry players and experts to network and discuss trends, challenges and opportunities affecting markets across the continent, under the theme The Year of the African Scaleup?
According to a release sighted by Biztechafrica, MEST is also announcing the MEST Africa Challenge, a Pan-African pitch competition open April 1 in Nairobi, Lagos, Accra and Cape Town. The final pitch event for the competition will be held on Day 2 of the Summit and will include winners from each city’s regional event, which will be held in late April/early May. Details and application can be found at mestafricasummit.com/startups.
“We’re excited to bring together leading players in the tech and investment space from across the continent and the globe once again, this time in our new home in Cape Town,” MEST Managing Director Aaron Fu said. “The MEST Africa Summit serves as a meeting ground for Pan-African entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem partners, and this year looks to ignite discussion around the real challenges and opportunities businesses face when reaching scale, as the startup space in Africa continues to mature.”
The statement noted that a Panel discussions during the Summit will feature expertise from leading African entrepreneurs, investors and executives, and will highlight those companies looking to scale to new African markets and the partners who can help them succeed. Topics include a debate over the best African country to start a business; a discussion of the latest fintech, agritech and blockchain innovations, why women code better, and more.
In November 2017, MEST launched incubator spaces in Lagos, Nigeria and Cape Town, South Africa, adding to its flagship incubator and training program in Accra, Ghana. Truly Pan-African, MEST also has a presence in Nairobi, Kenya and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Since its inception in 2008, the Meltwater Foundation has invested $20 million into the program, supporting aspiring African entrepreneurs through the training program and incubator. Now in its 10th year, nearly 300 individual entrepreneurs have graduated from the training program and over 50 tech companies have been launched via seed funding and mentorship from MEST. Three companies — Claimsync, AdGeek and messaging app Saya — have been acquired.
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 Startupsand 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.; have been named Mandela Washington Fellows, a flagship program of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI); and have been selected for Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Africa.