A Look Back on 2018 at MEST

Sylvana Lewin, Friday January 11th 2019

2018 was a big year at MEST! From celebrating our tenth anniversary all year long to launching exciting partnerships with organizations like Facebook and Klarity, we’ve seen some incredible growth and continued striving toward our mission.

The year featured guest lectures from experts like Dean of Microsoft 4Afrika Academy Lutz ZIob and I-Dev International CEO Jason Spindler, visits from top organizations such as Mastercard Foundation, and big wins for many of our Portfolio Companies and EITs. Twelve new companies were welcomed into the portfolio last year, and the Training Program opened its doors to the most diverse MEST cohort yet - with EITs from twelve African countries.

[caption id="attachment_8316" align="aligncenter" width="665"]Class of 2019 EITs at the MEST 10 Year Reunion Class of 2019 EITs at the MEST 10 Year Reunion[/caption]

As we enter this new year, we invite you to join us in looking back on 2018 and the top ten moments from MEST Africa’s tenth year!

Agro Innova sees winning year

In February, AgriTech company Agro Innova kicked off their year by winning a partnership with GIZ after participating in a two-day mobile application development challenge. They went on to work with GIZ throughout 2018, creating a mobile application for the group’s Farmer Business School Program, and are continuing work on the execution and implementation of the project together with GIZ. However, that wasn’t the only excitement 2018 held for the team as they also won Pitch AgriHack in Rwanda along with a 15,000 Euro grant.

Kudobuzz Acquires AdGeek and RetailTower

Kudobuzz also had a big year acquiring not one, but two other MEST Portfolio Companies. The team started the year with acquisition of AdGeek, an ad creation tool used by many online merchants for prospecting new customers and ad retargeting. After only a few months, they continued to strengthen their platform with the acquisition of RetailTower, an ecommerce product that helps online merchants sell across multiple shopping engines.

Two acquisitions weren’t enough for the Kudobuzz team, however, and they also headed to the UK as part of the Wayra Accelerator, which featured twelve top startups. Team CPO David Tetteh even had the opportunity to pitch to the Duke of York at the 2018 Pitch@Palace event.

[caption id="attachment_8313" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Kudobuzz CPO David Tetteh pitches at Pitch@Palace Kudobuzz CPO David Tetteh pitches at Pitch@Palace[/caption]

Third MEST Africa Summit kicks off in Cape Town

In June, 330 global investors, leading entrepreneurs, and corporate partners came together in Cape Town for the third annual MEST Africa Summit to discuss the most important topics impacting the African tech space.

An exciting moment, the event featured speakers from top companies including Facebook, Dalberg, iRoko, Quartz Africa, MTN, Knife Capital, and many more as well as pitches from MEST portfolio companies including Asoriba, Leti Arts, Amplify Pay, Qisimah, TroTro Tractor, and AF Radio, We also welcomed the first portfolio company to join MEST from outside the  training program: Nigeria’s Accounteer, the first winner of the MEST Africa Challenge.

MEST EITs win MTN Apps Challenge

Not to be outshone by the MEST Founders, our EITs also had a big 2018. In July, Class of 2018 EITs Ehiaghe Aigimawu and Elohor Thomas won the Education Category of the MTN Ghana Apps Challenge. They were the first all female team to win and the third set of winners from MEST. Later in the year, EITs from the Class of 2019 went on to win Ghana’s first NASA Space Apps Challenge.  

MEST Partners with Honeywell Group for Itanna Accelerator

Starting in August, MEST began a partnership with Honeywell Group, one of the largest diversified enterprises in Nigeria, to launch their inaugural Itanna Accelerator Program. An innovative program for tech-enabled Nigerian startups, the accelerator saw four startups go through a 12-week curriculum, built and delivered by MEST.

[caption id="attachment_7297" align="aligncenter" width="665"] Itanna and MEST Lagos team[/caption]

MEST Incubator Nairobi launches

In September, MEST was thrilled to welcome Nairobi into its Pan-African Incubator community with the launch of the MEST Incubator Nairobi in Kenya. WIth two portfolio companies sitting in Kenya and the number of Kenyan EITs growing each year, we knew it was time to open our flagship East African space. Though it’s only been a few months, we are already loving being a part of the vibrant tech ecosystem in Nairobi!  

[caption id="attachment_7475" align="aligncenter" width="665"]MEST MD Aaron Fu speaks at the launch of the MEST Incubator Nairobi MEST MD Aaron Fu speaks at the launch of the MEST Incubator Nairobi[/caption]

MEST Partners with UNDP and FinMark Trust

MEST also launched a partnership with UNDP and FinMark Trust to facilitate events focused on financial innovation and inclusion in Lesotho in September. Kicking off with a multi-stakeholder hackathon, the program also included a unique training curriculum developed by MEST.

KIC Wins P3 Impact Award

The MEST Portfolio Companies weren’t the only ones winning awards in 2018. In October the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC), a public-private partnership between MEST, DAI Global, and Kosmos Energy, received the P3 Impact Award. The award recognizes leading cross-sector collaborations addressing societal challenges. It was a proud moment not only for MEST and our partners, but also all of our AgriTech companies that have gone through the KIC program.  

MEST Launches Airbus Bizlab Partnership

In October, MEST headed to France to launch a partnership with Airbus Bizlab as they return to Africa for a second time with the Africa4Future Challenge. The initiative found and connected African aerospace startups with experts at Airbus who will now work with the startups to speed up innovation and scale their product/service in Africa.

MEST Heads to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa

In December, the MEST community saw a strong end to the year with Complete Farmer and CodeLn heading to Lagos to pitch on stage among the fifteen finalists for TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa. MEST Managing Director Aaron Fu was also present as the first person to judge not one, but two years of Startup Battlefield.  

Make sure to stay tuned for what promises to be an even more exciting 2019! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to not miss a moment.