As Africa’s biggest tech startup pitching competition, the MEST Africa Challenge offers entrepreneurs and young businesses the opportunity of a lifetime; $50,000 in equity funding and a slot in one of MEST’s hubs.
This year, the competition was held virtually, and expanded its reach from five to nine African countries, making room for more startups to receive support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The competition kicked off with seventy-five finalists, tech startups from Ethiopia, Kenya, Côte D’Ivoire, Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa chosen from among one thousand applicants.
The country finals lasted two months, after which DeboEngineering (Ethiopia), Fundis(Kenya), Tutoo+(Côte d’Ivoire), BAG Innovation(Rwanda), Oniocha Ltd(Ghana), Kilimo fresh Foods Africa Limited(Tanzania), Mousso Africa(Senegal), Gradely(Nigeria) and PopUpShopShop(South Africa) emerged country winners, qualifying them to compete in the finale. Their solutions were as varied as they were innovative, covering everything from health to agriculture, education to finance.
Judging the finale was a veritable list of investors, serial entrepreneurs and executives who have contributed immensely to the growth of Africa’s tech ecosystem. They included MEST Africa’s very own CEO and founder – Jorn Lyseggen, Microsoft’s Senior Director for Software Partnerships – Chris Lwanga; the Founding Principal of Imaginable Futures – Teresa Mbagaya and Partner of TLcom Capital – Andreata Muforo. Each startup was assessed based on a variety of factors including value proposition, impact, size of the target market, customer identification, revenue model, competitor analysis, growth strategy, traction-to-date, and expertise of the founding team.
At the end of the three-hour live finale, Kilimo fresh Foods Africa Limited was named as the ultimate winner, walking away with an envious prize of $50,000 in investment. They will also join one of MEST’s incubators for a year of support and acceleration. Moussa Africa and BAG Innovation came in as 1st and 2nd runner up respectively.
Debo Engineering was announced as the winner of the first MEST Africa Challenge Community Choice, an award given to the startup with the most votes from the audience. They will receive a fully-funded slot in one of MEST’s incubators, with access to its vast and international community as well as drool-worthy perks.
The 2020 MEST Africa Challenge was supported by the global tech giant, Microsoft, and a network of over thirty ecosystem partners including VC4A, AfriLabs, YUX, Briter Bridges, Blue Moon, Founders Factory Africa, Silicon Cape, Gebeya, Nailab, Royal Work Hub, Growth Africa, Nairobi Garage, Swahili Box, 250 Startups, Impact Hub Kigali, KLab, Ghana Tech Lab, Hacklab Foundation, Move Me Back, SBIncubator, Seedstars, GrowthLab, Levers in Heels, Robotech Labs, Africarena, Impact Hub Lagos, Take My Word and She Leads Africa.