Dear MEST Community,

The holidays are finally upon us and we are looking forward to enjoying time off and spending it with family. It has undoubtedly been a tough year, full of challenges, uncertainties, changes, learning curves, and opportunities but we are glad because we pulled through. For those of you who are still away from loved ones in your home countries, remember that there’s family around you — this time around in the world — no one is alone. We’d like to appreciate and acknowledge every one of you for contributing and for being part of the MEST experience in 2020.

At MEST, our focus remains on supporting entrepreneurs and startups and equipping them with skills to take opportunities and create them. With the support and hard work of diverse departments such as our Training Programme, Consultancy, Business Development, Marketing, Community, Operations and the inclusion of other units like the Mastercard Foundation and Human Resources, we have been able to achieve the goal of training, mentoring, and funding sustainable companies and contributing to the entrepreneurship ecosystem. We highly appreciate the support staff — the kitchen, security staff, drivers, and cleaners who have worked tirelessly throughout these months.

As an organization that is characterized by physical interactions, presence, and energy, this year was quite challenging, yet life-changing as we had to adapt new strategies of working and operating as part of our efforts to manage the COVID -19 pandemic and flatten the curve. In spite of all the setbacks, there has been strength of character, resilience, growth, exciting opportunities for new work and above all, there have been results.

We had some interesting highlights this year. A few of them being:

  • Organizing a virtual MEST Africa Challenge with Microsoft which was a success with the participation of 89 startups from nine countries.
  • The kickstart of the relationship with the Mastercard Foundation and the launch of exciting programs such as Pre-MEST, MEST Express, MEST Scale, and the IDC Accelerator.
  • Other partners such as UNICEF, GIZ, IFC, and GFA gave us a unique opportunity to work with digital entrepreneurs.
  • Successfully managing our portfolio companies and working alongside each one of them to ensure success and growth.
Kilimo fresh, winners of the 2020 MEST Africa Challenge

In light of the portfolio companies, we would like to give a shout-out to the companies who did a phenomenal job this year:

Adi+Bolga, AgroInnova, BACE, BezoMoney, CodeLn, Cofundie, Complete Farmer, CoVibes, Curacel, Chekkit, Farmula, Jumeni, Kudobuzz, Kweza, Leti Arts, Massira, MeQasa, Damansah, Judy, Nestmetric, Nvoicia, Niqao, Nadia, Saada, TroTroTractor, Vesicash and Zuri.

Each one of the founders and employees of our portfolio companies have shown us and the ecosystem what it is to lead a startup through these times and we are proud of each and every one of you.

Our biggest change was to suspend the class of 2021. The core of what we do at MEST lies in the training program and we are eager to see how feasible it is to kickstart it next year.

We welcomed new additions to the team, and we also had to say goodbye and send our good wishes to some beloved long-time staff members. As Jorn and we always say, “Once a MESTer, always a MESTer.”

With the new normal the pandemic has brought us, we look forward to 2021, which will definitely bring us more opportunities and new ideas for engagement, relevance, and impact.

We thank you for your commitment, encouragement, and belief in the MEST mission and we look forward to a fruitful year with you in 2021. Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

Cheers,

Ashwin Ravichandran

Managing Director

MEST Africa

The largest Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for startups: www.meltwater.org