On Friday, TechMoran announced that Nest Africa’s Managing Partner, Aaron Fu had moved to Accra-based Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a pan-African startup accelerator and incubator as its Managing Director as it doubles down on efforts to strengthen its presence across the continent.
MEST says Fu brings both significant experience in the African technology, investment and startup landscapes, as well as a vast network in Asia, having previously served as Managing Partner, Africa for NEST.vc. Also his experience both within investment firms and startups and in traditional corporate roles, including Standard Chartered Bank and Societe Generale, throughout Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa, will help MEST to significantly build on its global network, creating a truly Pan-African program that is fully supported and embedded in tech hubs across Silicon Valley, Europe, and Asia.
Fu will help the firm expand in both depth and reach across Africa by drawing from his extensive experience in East Africa – where he built platforms with the support of innovative companies like Visa, MTN, World Bank and Barclays – to bring MEST entrepreneurs and the wider African startup ecosystem closer together. As part of this expansion, MEST is actively pursuing corporate and brand partnerships that will provide additional resources and support for its entrepreneurs as they grow and scale.
Lyseggen added that, “MEST was founded on the idea that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Aaron will be critical to helping MEST deepen and broaden our presence across key regions of the continent so we can reach more talent and provide our existing entrepreneurs with significant resources and an unbeatable network, both in Africa and globally, to help them expand their businesses into new markets or launch in their home countries.”
MEST provides a 12-month Entrepreneur-in-Training (EIT) program, which infuses African tech enthusiasts with a combination of hard IT and practical business skills, equipping them to build successful commercial tech companies. At the end of the program, teams have the opportunity to pitch for funding and a seat at the MEST Incubator.
Since its inception, the Meltwater Foundation has invested $20 million into the program, supporting aspiring African entrepreneurs through the training program and incubator. Over 350 individual entrepreneurs have graduated from the training program and over 30 tech companies have been launched via seed funding and mentorship from MEST. A number of MEST companies have gone on to raise outside capital and two — Claimsync and messaging app Saya — have been acquired.
Additionally, 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 community at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. and have been named Mandela Washington Fellows, a flagship program of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Corporate strategic partners include Samsung, Vodafone and Facebook’s internet.org—all of which have a shared interest in bolstering the emerging tech ecosystem in Africa as means to economic growth.
Accra will remain Headquarters for MEST’s training program but the incubator is working with other incubators across the continent to reach more entrepreneurs. MEST announced its pan-African expansion last year and currently has a footprint in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. This year it welcomed its first Francophone entrepreneurs from Côte d’Ivoire.