Welcoming Cape Town to the MEST Pan-African Incubator Community

Abu Okari | Monday, November 27th, 2017

Believe in people! Skills and aptitude are key. However, at the end of the day, it’s your ability to develop people that makes the difference. 

We’re pleased to announce that with the launch of the MEST Cape Town Incubator, the city is now a part of the Pan-African MEST community. The Cape Town tech and startup community including investors, corporate executives, and opinion shapers joined the celebration led by MEST CEO and Founder, Jorn Lyseggen, MEST MD, Aaron Fu, Cape Town Community Manager Victoria Jackson and the rest of the MEST Africa team to launch the new Incubator located at the Woodstock Exchange right in the heart of Cape Town.

It was a full house as Yossi Hasson, the Cape Town Managing Director for TechStars, interviewed Jorn on stage about software entrepreneurship, MEST Africa’s origins, and Jorn’s perspective on tech startups in sub-Saharan Africa. Jorn spoke on a range of topics, reminding the crowd about the importance of culture in building great organizations and the key ability for startup founders to bring other people along: “Skills and aptitude are key. However, at the end of the day, it’s your ability to develop people that makes the difference.” Jorn said.

Drawing on his experience of founding and running Meltwater, a global leader in media intelligence, he underscored the opportunity available to us in the age of big data: “We’re privileged to be born in a time where the internet allows us to rapidly disseminate information across borders,” said Jorn, before adding that we’re seeing more investment in the continent right now as opposed to only focusing on philanthropy which has been the case before.

MEST Managing Director, Aaron Fu reiterated MEST Africa’s Pan-African vision and mission. “We are working towards delivering access to opportunities for startups from across Africa,” said Aaron. “We want to enable the collaboration and interaction and thus make trans-Africa startups happen more; that’s what  we want to see with this space, similar to the one in Lagos.”

Part of the MEST team with Founder and CEO, Jorn Lyssegen and MD, Aaron Fu, at the launch.

With the addition of MEST Incubators in Lagos and Cape Town, MEST entrepreneurs can now choose to start or expand their businesses into the vibrant Nigerian and South African markets. Cape Town offers the companies formed through the MEST Training Program a unique beta market, with well-established regulatory systems, a thriving support ecosystem and a growing equity investment climate. The city also has some of the best connections across the continent and the globe, to enable these businesses to enter new markets more quickly.

An increasing number of Cape Town-based startups, scale-ups and corporates are looking to the continent for partnership opportunities, and with the launch of the MEST Incubator, they will be able to leverage MEST’s networks and resources to connect with people from different parts of the continent and make amazing things happen.

“South Africa is unashamedly Pan-African”, said Wesgro Managing Director Tim Harris.  Wesgro is the Official Tourism, Trade & Investment Promotion Agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Tim also reiterated the role entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial networks play in connecting the continent. “Entrepreneurs bind us to our African continent,” he continued. “It is really important that we leverage our connections within the continent to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Africa to achieve our growth ambitions.”

MEST’s expansion into the various leading tech markets is rooted in its mission to develop the next wave of tech entrepreneurs who will make an impact both globally and regionally; it’s a testament of the faith we have in the next wave of African entrepreneurs. As Jorn said: “Believe in the youth! Believe in people!” Subsequently, the extension of the community to South Africa couldn’t have come at a better time as we believe it is one of the most consequential tech markets on the continent.

The MEST Incubator in Cape Town will be home to a carefully curated economy that will be based on value addition and exchange to maximize its potential. For the first time, startups that have not gone through the MEST program can apply to join as a co-working member in the Cape Town and Lagos spaces. Early members will enjoy unique benefits. Click here to apply now!