MEST and Mastercard Foundation launch program to help Ghanaian SMEs tackle challenges and scale growth
The program, aimed specifically at business owners and leaders, is designed to help Small and Medium Ghanaian Enterprises (SMEs) at their growth stage to address systemic and environmental factors that hinder their access to capital and impede their ability to scale.
The Accelerator is inviting SMEs that have ambitions to take their operations to scale, regardless of industry, to submit expressions of interest via the MEST website.
The high-growth venture accelerator identifies specific areas in which most Ghanaian SMEs face growth challenges and lines up expert trainers and mentors to deliver strategic, operational and technical support to businesses in a one-year program. Through this accelerator, MEST Africa will be providing Ghanaian SMEs with hands-on and strategic guidance on how to manage these challenges while building operational and technical efficiencies that will boost their growth.
“SMEs play a critical role in Ghana’s socio-economic growth but very often, most SMEs are unable to scale up due to several challenges and systemic barriers. These include fractured value chains, inadequate or inefficient use of technology, lack of leadership and operational support, talent acquisition and retention, and limited access to growth capital.
For over a decade, we have built some of Africa’s most innovative and scalable businesses and we are eager to share our knowledge and expertise with more promising Ghanaian companies that have the potential to scale and make the most impact on the economy”, said Kweku Fleming, Program Manager for MEST Scale at MEST Africa.
SMEs make up about 85% of businesses in Ghana and contribute largely to GDP and employment. The focus of the program is to empower this influential group of businesses to increase revenue, create new jobs, optimize value chain linkages, and access investments, all of which contribute to the advancement of socio-economic prosperity in Ghana.
“SMEs are critical to driving sustainable economic growth and creating dignified work for young women and men in Ghana. Supported to scale, they have the potential to be real game changers in the Ghanaian economy. This partnership allows us to support the process of building an ecosystem of thriving SMEs”, said Chirag Shamdasani, Innovation Lead, Ghana, at the Mastercard Foundation.
The Scale program will select 10 SMEs, headquartered in Ghana, to accelerate and scale over the next year. Participating companies will receive the following:
- Advisory support tailored to their business needs
- Leadership coaching, mentorship and knowledge sharing from leading professionals
- Specialist consultation sessions with subject-matter experts
- Technology enhancement to enable growth scale
- Investor engagement and investment readiness support
- Funding, partnerships and ecosystem linkages
MEST Scale is one of three new programs launched by MEST Africa and the Mastercard Foundation to scale their impact and reach more young people, entrepreneurs and business leaders at different touch points of their entrepreneurial journey in Ghana, and in time, across the continent.
Interested companies should visit the MEST website and fill out the Expression of Interest form. Applications close on October 18th, 2021.
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MEST Africa is an African-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for technology startups in Africa.Founded in Ghana in 2008, MEST provides critical skills training, funding, and support in software development, business, and communications to Africa’s tech entrepreneurs. Hubs are located in Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; Cape Town, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya. To date, MEST has invested in over 80 startups across industries from SaaS and consumer internet, to eCommerce, Digital Media, Agritech, Fintech, and Healthcare IT. MEST is primarily funded by the Meltwater Foundation, the non-profit arm of Meltwater, a global leader in media intelligence.
Leveraging MEST’s core competencies, decade plus of learning, extensive network, and existing intellectual property, in 2020 and beyond, MEST is partnering with the Mastercard Foundation to design and test three pilot programs with local partners in Ghana. The projects — Pre-MEST, MEST Express, and MEST Scale — will enable MEST to scale its impact and reach more young people at different touch points along their entrepreneurial and employment journey in Ghana, and in time, across the continent.
About MEST Scale
MEST Scale is a venture acceleration program designed by MEST, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, to help Small and Medium Enterprises strengthen their operations, address key technology gaps, and increase their ability and capacity to scale their growth.
About Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.
For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org
About Young Africa Works
The Mastercard Foundation’s new strategy, Young Africa Works, outlines how, over the next decade, we will focus on finding solutions to the youth employment challenge and reducing poverty in Africa. When young people can secure formal work and a steady wage their lives improve. Employment, particularly formal employment, is a leading pathway out of poverty for families. Using youth employment as a measure of our progress, we will work to help millions of young people find a pathway out of poverty. Our work will ensure 30 million young people in Africa, particularly young women, secure dignified and fulfilling work.
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Funke Makinwa, Marketing and Recruitment Manager
Kweku Fleming, Program Manager
Kweku Ahiagble, Country Lead (Ghana), Program Communications
Young Africa Works