Pan-African entrepreneurial training program, seed fund and tech incubator, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), has launched its fourth incubator and tech hub in Nairobi, Kenya. This will serve as its flagship East African space, joining hubs in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, as part of a growing network of Pan-African incubators.
The Nairobi launch comes less than a year after the opening of MEST Africa’s Lagos and Cape Town hubs in November 2017.
(TOP: The MEST logo. Image: MEST)
The Nairobi space will also host the new East African office of its parent brand, Meltwater, which is also expanding into the region. The incubator will provide the same on-the-ground support, access to resources and global MEST network enjoyed by portfolio companies in Accra, Lagos and Cape Town.
Following the announcement of a $700,000 investment in 7 startups from the 2018 MEST cohort, one of the first companies to move into the Incubator in Nairobi will be recent investment Sharehouse, an ‘Airbnb for warehouses.’ Sharehouse will be joined by existing portfolio company Nestmetric, a platform that makes business insights and predictions through Machine Learning accessible to all types of businesses.
“MEST is thrilled to officially establish our presence in East Africa with the launch of our Nairobi incubator,” said Aaron Fu, the MEST MD. “A truly Pan-African tech hub, we now have a presence across all corners of Sub-Saharan Africa: West, South and now East. I personally look forward to engaging even more deeply with the incredibly vibrant tech and startup community thriving in Nairobi, which I’m happy to call home.”
The Nairobi incubator is located at Nairobi Garage on the 7th floor of Pinetree Plaza, on Kaburu Drive, along Ngong Road.
“It’s exciting to see MEST launch in Nairobi,” I-DEV Founder & CEO Jason Spindler said. “Our recent Africa Tech Survey of key thought leaders and investors shows Kenya is a fast-growing and leading hub for African tech startups that are designed to scale from their DNA. With the MEST network in West and South Africa as well, it’ll be no time before we see Nairobi startups take on a Pan-African footprint.”
MEST established an initial presence outside of Ghana beginning with Nigeria in 2015, and expanded to Kenya and South Africa in 2016, when the first classes of Nigerian, Kenyan and South African Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs) were accepted into the program. Currently, MEST has a presence in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire, and Entrepreneurs-in-Training from 12 African countries.
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, over 330 individual entrepreneurs have graduated from the training program and over 55 tech companies have been launched via seed funding and mentorship from MEST. Three companies – Claimsync, AdGeek and 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 Startups and TechStars. MEST entrepreneurs have also been selected by President Obama as representatives of the African business communityat the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.; as well as being named as Mandela Washington Fellows, a program of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI); and have been selected for Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Africa.