Meet our MEST Africa Challenge Kenya Country Finals Judges

This post was created by Vickie Remoe, Emerging Markets PR & Communications Expert for the MEST Africa Challenge.

On June 10th, the MEST Africa Challenge Kenya country finals will bring together the best and brightest entrepreneurs to pitch their startup ventures to a panel of expert judges.

Join MEST, Microsoft, and Kenyan ecosystem partners Nairobi Garage, NaiLab, and SwahiliBox in the search to find Kenya’s next great tech startup!

Judges for the country finals in nine different markets across the continent — Ethiopia, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria, and South Africa, include local investors, business leaders, and community players. Here is a closeup of the MEST Africa Challenge Kenya Country Finals judges, who will select the winning pitch to make it to the MEST Africa-wide finals to compete for $50,000 in equity investment.

Lawrence Muthoga

Developer Audience Lead, Microsoft

Lawrence is the Azure Developer Audience Lead covering Africa where he specializes in developing, nurturing, and growing the Microsoft developer ecosystem across the African continent. He manages Microsoft’s engagement with African technical communities, startups, and developers and is responsible for their growth and success.

This role is aligned with Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. To achieve this, Lawrence works with Innovation Partners, Hubs, and technical communities to deepen existing relationships and come up with new strategies to enable technical growth across the board.

Prior to this role, Lawrence worked as a Breadth and Community manager in Microsoft 4Afrika which was preceded by his role as Technical Evangelist in Microsoft 4Afrika. His role was to empower and inspire Independent Software Vendors, and developers with tools and technologies that allow them to unlock new and unique opportunities across cloud technologies and build scalable solutions.

Lawrence has held multiple customer and partner-facing roles at Microsoft. From an Office365 Solution Sales Professional to a Partner Technology Strategist to a Technology Solutions Professional for Dynamics 365.

Melalite Ayenew

Partner at Antler

Melalite is the Tech Partner in Antler East Africa, supporting the Antler founders on tech and strategy. Her prior experience includes Oracle, Bain & Company, and Princeton Consultants. Melalite holds an MBA from INSEAD and an MSc in Computer Science.

Vishal Agarwal

Founder Capital Club & TiE

Vishal is the Bestselling Author of the leadership book “Give to Get’’ which has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, BBC, NY Post, and a host of print and radio shows globally.

He is a Senior Leader with a decade of Pan-African business experience. He is the Chairman & Chief Executive at Full Circle Africa, a proprietary investment firm. He actively invests in venture capitalists, small businesses, and in hospitality assets across Africa.

He was formerly in charge of Development & Investments at General Electric Africa in the capacity of Managing Director. As a thought leader, he played a key role in GE’s Sino-Africa efforts including participation within the One Belt, One Road initiatives.

Prior to GE, he was a Senior Partner of the PwC Africa firm. He led PwC’s Regional Deals practice based in Nairobi, Kenya. He also headed the firms’ Infrastructure Finance and Public-Private Partnership product offerings for the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

Annie Njenga

Start Path Partnerships Manager, Mastercard

Annie leads the start path program for Mastercard in Africa where there is immense startup and fintech activity. Start Path is Mastercard’s corporate accelerator program that connects later-stage global start-ups with Mastercard’s business units and our customers. For the last 6 years, we have scoured the globe for best-in-class start-ups who are building the future of commerce, focusing on those with real businesses and interesting technology who are poised and ready to partner. The program gives startups a rapid path to scale by providing access to new markets, helping drive strategic initiatives, and of course building networks to our customers. She previously worked at Philips where she was a product manager within the Africa Innovation Hub for 4 years. Her role entailed a collaboration with product development teams as well as the business to develop, test, and pilot healthcare solutions for emerging markets. Prior to Philips, she was the Innovation Partnerships Manager at Microsoft for West, East, and Central Africa.

Mark Kuria

Head of Kuria Capital

Mark’s firm works in the Kenyan Investment space. Kuria Capital invests in seed-rounds in high growth early-stage ventures, which they deem to have a key social impact, as well as rapid R.O.I and or considerable equity growth. Kuria Capital is looking to close FY18 with two high growth companies on portfolio; in fintech and tech solutions. This fund is also a critical diversification vehicle for Reata Properties. They also oversee a staff of talented Web Developers who are leveraged on portfolio companies and deliver tailored WebDev services.

MEST Africa Challenge Country Finals: Kenya

Join MEST and Microsoft on June 10th for the Kenya Country Finals of the MEST Africa Challenge. Startup finalists will pitch their business ventures to a panel of expert judges made up of leaders, investors, and ecosystem partners. The best from the Kenya finals will go on to compete against winners from eight other countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Côte D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Rwanda for $50,000 in equity investment and a chance to join MEST’s Africa-wide startup support network.

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