BY TOM JACKSON
MEST, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, has selected 14 startups for the first 2021 cohort of its MEST Express accelerator.
Launched virtually in September 2020 in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early-stage ventures in Ghana, the 20-week MEST Express programme will offer selected startups free training, tailored mentorship and the opportunity to receive up to $10,000 in equity-free grant funding.
It 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.
The 14 startups were selected from over 180 applications, and include ticketing platform Ticketmiller, online radio studio Africa Global Radio, logistics and e-commerce solution Roots Digital, VoD platform Wi-flix, advertising platform BlowApp, talent directory Casting Africa, and digitilisation support service Ogaliya.
The list is completed by learning management system Klingbo, web service provider Plugnom, BR tours startup Dobiison, social commerce platform Tendo, private transport service stabus, fintech solution Kadi, and AI-powered procurement solution Eazyloop.
“We are super excited to work with these startups in the 2021 Alpha cohort. During recruitment, we were blown away by the calibre and variety of businesses we came across doing impressive work in Ghana. This year, the programme will reach new heights and expand its impact considerably with the addition of grant funding,” said Felix Darko, MEST Express programme manager.
MEST Express is one of three new programmes, alongside Pre-MEST 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 three million young people in Ghana to access dignified and fulfilling work.
“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, programme lead for digital economy at the Mastercard Foundation Ghana office.