Spotlight on Jakub at Mest: Developing Africa’s Pipeline of Tech Entrepreneurs
MEST is a non-profit youth training program and incubator based in Ghana focused on building a pipeline of entrepreneurs and new businesses across the continent. Each year, 60 entrepreneurs-in-training complete a 12-month program at the organization’s school. Participants gain the skills they need to launch and run a tech company, and at the end of each year, they develop and pitch a business idea to the leadership team and fellows at MEST’s incubator.
EWB Fellow Jakub Byc, an industrial engineering graduate from the University of Toronto, joined MEST last spring as an incubator fellow. He supports the graduating cohort pitch their business ideas and helps the team from MEST’s incubator side evaluate the projects. The latest round of projects were selected last August. MEST invested in 10 companies bringing the organization’s portfolio to a total of 42 companies.
Like EWB, MEST’s incubator program provides multidimensional support to the founding-stage companies post-investment, helping them to establish, iterate and grow their business. Jakub and other incubator fellows–diverse experts from around the world–onboard and support the 10 new companies and existing companies in the incubator. Fellows help the ventures with business development, funding and marketing strategies, product design and more. The MEST incubator team also holds bi-weekly meetings with each company where they share the recent successes and challenges and present a strategy for next two weeks.
Together, the training program, extensive support from incubator fellows, advisory services from the leadership team and seed funding from MEST help entrepreneurs and companies build their capabilities as a startup. If successful, companies exit the incubator taking with them the skills and expertise they’ve gained.
MEST’s emphasis on community supports EWB’s efforts to build a pan-African network of entrepreneurs who can support and learn from one another. As EWB continues to search for and invest in social enterprises in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, MEST contributes skilled entrepreneurs to the ecosystem in Ghana as well as their two other incubators in Cape Town and Lagos.