Pan-African integrated payment processing and transaction switching firm Interswitch has today partnred with Ghana’s Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) to develop and extend the acclaimed MEST training programme and directly impact and benefit Nigeria’s IT entrepreneurs and its rapidly growing domestic ICT industry.
Dubbed ‘Interswitch MEST’, the partnership is expected to ensure that startups that join the program are trained, mentored and supported during their stay at the MEST campus in Accra, Ghana. This is also expected to create jobs that power the development of world-class software companies in Nigeria.
Neal Hansch, Managing Director – Investment & Incubation at MEST said, “We’re proud of what we’ve built thus far. Partnering with Interswitch will allow us to build on that success and jolt our efforts in the West African region. Nigeria is an extremely important piece of the puzzle in order for us to provide the most competitive environment for our students to then build Africa’s greatest tech products. Interswitch will be a driving force behind that.”
The Interswitch MEST partnership will take several forms. First, the extension of the MEST programme to Nigerian students (2014 marks the first year that students outside of Ghana will be considered). The first year will comprise Nigerian and Ghanaian students working side-by-side in the MEST Accra campus with new Nigerian faculty members being trained according to the curriculum. The second year will see all students, new faculty and some existing staff moving to the MEST campus in Lagos, Nigeria.
This innovative solution is a symbol of continued collaboration between international, regional and Nigerian leading private sector entities, facilitated by the FMCT.
Prior to its consolidating partnership with Interswitch, MEST has offered aspiring African entrepreneurs a fully sponsored two-year, intensive and full-time schooling programme since 2008 – training over 200 Ghanaian IT entrepreneurs and investing almost $2m in 17 software startups.
Mr. Mitchell Elegbe, Group Managing Director, Interswitch Transnational Holdings, said “We’re delighted to be driving employment in Africa’s ICT industry, through this important partnership with MEST. Interswitch has long been developing products and services that help African businesses to grow, operate more efficiently and create jobs. This partnership is a natural extension of that work, in a field we are particularly passionate. This is an extremely exciting time for technology in Nigeria, and we look forward to showing young Africans how they can meet their potential in the sector”
This year MEST has also announced intake for Nigerian graduates from all backgrounds who are passionate about software and entrepreneurship. Dr. Omobola Johnson, the Minister of Communication Technology says the move is a welcome development that complements the work of the Federal Ministry in developing the skills and reach of local ICT entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
“One of the Ministry’s focal points is to develop local content, creating an environment that fosters innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. We look forward to the success of this initiative and world class software companies in Nigeria, being created as a direct result of this collaboration’’ she stated.