young-innovatorsThe Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is launching its 2022 Express accelerator program for entry startup companies in Accra, Ghana. Many young innovators are participating in this program. MEST’s mission is to “focus on empowering startups in Ghana that are providing solutions that use technology to drive transformational change to create a more sustainable future for all.” Sustainable social impact is a pillar of the incubator’s goals. Furthermore, the professional development of women entrepreneurs will receive priority for the upcoming cohort.

Accra is rapidly becoming one of the leading tech hubs in the world. As a center for innovation, talent from around West Africa are starting companies in Ghana. Rising regional innovators will soon arrive at MEST’s offices to fine-tune their projects into successful enterprises.

The Impact

The 20-week accelerator program began on July 28, 2022. Each startup receives $5,000 at the start of the program to develop its projects. Then, top-performing participants obtain $20,000 in equity-free funding for further business growth. Young innovators in Accra are getting the capital they need to build their emerging companies.

Along with funding, MEST supports entrepreneurs through mentorship and networking. The incubator’s team of experienced consultants gives a new perspective to growth stage projects. Sector experts help participants develop marketing strategies and identify target audiences. Furthermore, the MEST Express accelerator program connects young innovators in Accra with a transnational entrepreneurial community and investors.

Finally, the MEST curriculum develops business soft skills. The model prepares entrepreneurs for the professional world through leadership, communication, critical thinking and team-building development. Each startup must present its project at the end of the program. Program alumni gain valuable experience for future opportunities in the field. MEST is producing the next generation of young innovators in Accra.

Bottom-up investment is impactful on a local level and benefits macro-economic health. Startup entrepreneurs tend to be more in touch with community issues. Innovators’ products often reflect the environments they grow up in. It is essential to finance local entrepreneurs with the lived experience to properly address societal issues. MEST’s focus on social impact is funding community-driven transformation.

Through the MEST Express accelerator program, participants are empowered to become change-makers. The funding provides opportunities and creates new wealth for young innovators in Accra. MESTS’s bottom-up investment strategy encourages a thriving middle-class in Ghana and supports domestic, as well as global economic expansion.

Startup Highlight

Codetrain is one of MEST’s many successful alumni companies. The group provides training, guidance and professional opportunities to young coders in Ghana. The company develops students with little experience into world-class software programmers and sets them up to succeed with local and international tech companies.

The program trained more than 500 students in Accra and Kumasi since it opened in 2017. Roughly 90% of these coders found employment after graduating from Codetrain. Business accelerators expand the impact and economic growth exponentially.

Future of Innovation in Ghana

While Ghana is developing into a regional tech startup powerhouse, there are still challenges facing entrepreneurs in West Africa. It is crucial that opportunities for entrepreneurial development are extended to young innovators outside of urban centers. Greater investment in Ghanian incubator infrastructure is necessary to reach talent throughout the country.

Accelerators such as MEST generate global innovation, address social issues with sustainable solutions and maintain economic health. Identifying productive business incubators and funding the expansion of these initiatives should be foundational to the United States’ foreign strategy.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic is stunting the growth of start-ups in West Africa. Combating global vaccine inequality must be a policy priority to save lives and encourage economic growth.

MEST is gathering the top young innovators in Accra for the 2022 Express accelerator program. Social impact and gender equity in the tech sector are priorities for the initiative. Startups will receive funding to advance projects. Furthermore, participants will gain valuable soft skills, professional insight and networking opportunities.

While Ghana is becoming a rising hub for entrepreneurial activity, there are still roadblocks facing young innovators. Talent in rural areas is lost due to the limited reach of opportunity. Funding is needed to expand the business incubator infrastructure throughout Ghana. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disturb economic growth in West Africa. Global health care equity and investment in bottom-up strategies should be central to Washington’s foreign policy.

Despite these barriers, the future of Ghana’s tech sector is exciting. Many successful companies rose through MEST’s accelerator initiative. This year’s Express program in Accra is developing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

– Samson Heyer
Photo: Wikimedia Commons