MEST, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, has announced the admission of 14 startups for the first 2021 cohort of its MEST Express accelerator. Covering a wide range of industries from eCommerce and entertainment, to logistics and virtual reality, the companies will benefit from free training, tailored mentorship and have the opportunity to receive up to $10,000 in equity-free grant funding.
Over the course of 20-weeks, MEST Express will cover a range of business content for the startups, explicitly focusing on exploring business models and product pivots, improving risk and crises resilience, and becoming investment ready. Graduating startups will be poised for exponential business growth enabling them to mitigate risks, scale and onboard new talent, contributing to the growing need for job creation among youth in Ghana.
“We are super excited to work with these startups in the 2021 Alpha cohort. During recruitment, we were blown away by the caliber and variety of businesses we came across doing impressive work in Ghana. This year, the program will reach new heights and expand its impact considerably with the addition of grant funding,” said Felix Darko, MEST Express Program Manager.
Providing much needed support for early-stage technology ventures within the local ecosystem, the MEST Express program focuses on delivering tailored hands-on interventions through rapid practical application in order to achieve tangible business outcomes for participating startups. Through its bespoke curriculum designed to address the needs of each startup, the goal of the accelerator is to equip these early-stage ventures with the necessary skills and resources to weather the ongoing pandemic. Through workshops and one-on-one sessions, mentors and sector experts will assist founders in addressing, and providing solutions to, their current challenges enabling them to accelerate growth through innovation.
Launched virtually in September 2020, in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early-stage ventures in Ghana, MEST Express is one of three new programs — Pre-MEST, MEST Express, and MEST Scale, that MEST is currently running in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation through Young Africa Works, a 10-year strategy of the Foundation to enable 3 million young people in Ghana to access dignified and fulfilling work . Over the next 2 years, the US$3.5M project will enable MEST to scale its impact and reach exponentially more young people at more touch points along their entrepreneurial journey in Ghana, and in time, across the continent.
“Providing an enabling environment for young entrepreneurs to shape, transform and scale their operations will contribute immensely to building an ecosystem of thriving businesses able to provide fulfilling work for many young Ghanaians now and in the future. Through this partnership with MEST, the Foundation is laying the building blocks for a vibrant future for young entrepreneurs,” said Kofi Dadzie, Program Lead, Digital Economy at the Mastercard Foundation Ghana office.
The 14 startups, selected from over 180 applications for the Alpha cohort of the MEST Express program include:
- Ticketmiller – Ticketing platform for events and experiences
- Africa Global Radio – Online radio and multimedia studio producing diverse content aimed at the African continent and the diaspora
- Roots Digital – Logistics and eCommerce solution enabling door-to-door delivery for small and medium businesses across Africa
- Wi-flix – Online live streaming and video on demand site providing original African and international content to African audiences
- BlowApp – Advertising platform that connects advertisers to Social Media influencers ● Casting Africa – Casting platform and talent directory focused on connecting talents to jobs ● Ogaliya – Provides an all-inclusive digitalization support with little to no technical involvement of the business owner
- Klingbo – Management and learning system as well as an application for the administration, documentation, monitoring, reporting, and delivery of educational courses, training programs and development programs
- Plugnom – Web service provider for local businesses and brands that offers web services for locals who want to develop an online presence for their business
- Dobiison VR – Provides interactive virtual tours and dynamic digital experiences in the hospitality sector
- Tendo – Social commerce platform that enables social media users to sell online without investing any capital
- Stabus – Mobile app and USSD shortcode service that connects passengers with private and AC buses and enables them to ride across residential and commercial cities
- Kadi – Fintech solution that enables informal logistics providers in the construction, mining, and oil & gas to earn more, get paid quickly, and grow their business
- Eazyloop – AI powered procurement solution for businesses, with a focus on fast moving consumable goods industry (FMCGs)