MEST Entrepreneurs-In-Training take their Market Research Online: Here’s how you can help!

Written by Lundie Strom, MEST Head of Community Relations, for MEST.

Since 2008, aspiring entrepreneurs from across Africa have applied for 60 open spots at MEST’s one-year, fully sponsored, tech entrepreneurship training program in Accra, Ghana. Currently representing 15 countries, the Class of 2020 is a group of the continent’s most promising tech entrepreneurs.

Over the past few months, COVID-19 has changed the program in many unexpected ways. The MEST Accra campus is currently closed, all classes have moved online, and the long-awaited “NewCo” (or “New Company”) period is happening virtually for the first time ever.

“Over the 13-week NewCo period, we spend an intensive amount of time researching, advising, building, and testing business models and products in the real world, helping the Entrepreneurs-In-Training to establish a solid foundation for their future businesses,” said Funke Makinwa, MEST Training Programme Fellow and NewCo lead. “Unlike the other Capstone projects earlier in the year, the culmination of their efforts during the NewCo period result in the opportunity to receive seed funding for their companies.”

Now, they could use your help!

“The ongoing pandemic has been both a point of frustration and inspiration for the entrepreneurs,” Funke said. “There have been many challenges, especially related to the market research and product development phases of the NewCo process, however many of our EITs have responded to these through innovative approaches such as remote user testing, hosting webinars and other methods of virtual ethnography.”

While certainly different, strictly-online market research also poses a unique opportunity to reach a much wider audience, or access insights that otherwise would have remained untapped. Below you’ll find a list of what our NewCo teams are working on, the information they’re looking for, and how you might be able to support from wherever you’re sitting. Whether you have time to fill out a consumer survey, connect the team to an industry expert, or lend some relevant insights on a quick call — we thank you in advance!

Team: Ubuntu

Industry or area of research: eMental Health
Problem statement: 1 out of 3 South Africans are suffering from mental disorders. 81.2% of those suffering from mental health disorders are unable to receive mental health assistance due to a lack of awareness, advocacy, high consultation fees, and stigmatization. Our research seeks to evaluate if mental health is accessible, understand possible barriers, and understand an individual’s perception around mental health/ mental health care.
Targeting: Our target market is South Africa, but anyone willing to share their experience or opinion with us is encouraged to respond.

Link to survey

Contact: Segolene Semilinko — segolene.semilinko@meltwater.org

Team: JidiTrust

Industry or area of research: Financial Services for MSMEs
Problem statement: 80% of small business owners in Ghana are not financially literate and this leads to low business growth, and inability to understand the importance of business management and access financial opportunities available to them.
Targeting: Vendors on social media or any SME in Ghana

Link to survey

Contact: Lotanna Nwose — lotanna.nwose@meltwater.org

Team: Hedron

Industry or area of research: International Education and Student Recruitment
Problem statement: 55% of School applicants struggle with finding adequate information about schools, courses, and admission criteria when seeking admission to international schools. We want to understand the experiences of students seeking admission to International universities and colleges.
Targeting: Africans studying or Africans who have studied outside their home country

Link to survey

Contact: Rosemarlines Effiong — rosemarlines.effiong@meltwater.org

Team: KPILens

Industry or area of research: Project Monitoring and Evaluation
Problem statement: Due to the manual process of monitoring multiple KPIs on Excel-based frameworks; 77% of development organizations rely on labor-intensive data transformation processes that use various analytics software tools to generate reports. This results in a prolonged Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning cycle (MEL), increased MEL costs and accountability gaps in the project delivery. We’re conducting research on the M&E industry to find out how technology can make the job of M&E teams easier and to help them become more efficient.
Targeting: M&E Professionals (Managers, Data Analysts, Project Managers)

Link to survey

Contact: Jean Philippe Boungou — jean.boungou@meltwater.org

Team: Colibri

Industry or area of research: Youth Unemployment
Problem statement: Although African youth have degrees and relevant digital skills, 39% of them are living under the poverty line. At the same time, businesses lose efficiency and competitiveness spending too much money and time on digital projects, leading to high operating costs and lack of innovation. We’re researching digital employment in Africa.
Targeting: Business owners, startup founders, and entrepreneurs globally

Link to survey

Contact: Mary Abiodun — mary.abiodun@meltwater.org

Team: BOXCONN

Industry or area of research: Supply Chain Management
Problem statement: People and Organizations that need services in the supply chain industry find it difficult to gain insights caused by a broken supply chain system, which includes their inability to find the right storage and fulfillment service at the right prices.
Targeting: Individuals that buy and sell on social media

Link to survey

Contact: Emmanuel Asamoah — emmanuel.asamoah@meltwater.org

Team: ConSul

Industry or area of research: SME financing
Problem statement: Despite contributing 50% to the GDP, 80% of SMEs in Nigeria fail during the first few years of operation due to cash flow problems, And only 5% of these businesses are able to receive adequate working capital for funding their business growth. This is due to their inability to access the right financing options, improper documentation & low creditworthiness from poor record keeping.
Targeting: Business owners in Ghana and Nigeria who have applied or tried applying for a loan/grant for their business

Link to survey

Contact: Uche Orjinta — uche.orjinta@meltwater.org

When asked what COVID-19 has taught them about entrepreneurship, Entrepreneur-In-Training Godwin Olingo said, “COVID-19 has made it clear that there are uncertainties that even the best companies cannot foresee, and that as an entrepreneur, I have to be creative and open-minded to change and pivot when circumstances don’t favor my business… This just further cements the benefits of creative thinking and being ready to adjust and pivot.”

“I have been inspired by seeing a lot of African startups not just surviving, but also thriving despite the situation,” Entrepreneur-In-Training Rosemarlines Effiong told me, when asked the same. “It has given ‘adaptability’ a whole new meaning.”

Interested in offering support to our Entrepreneurs-In-Trainings as they build tech companies? Reach out to lundie@meltwater.org.

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