MEST Opens Recruitment to Kenya

The new MEST logo

Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology has extended its recruitment boundaries towards East Africa, and specifically to Kenya! Over the past few years, MEST has succeeded in building a software entrepreneurship scholarship program which trains graduates to build globally successful software companies. As part of its efforts to create wealth and jobs across Africa, the school opened recruitment to Nigeria last year. This year, it has gone even further, all the way to Kenya.

The recruitment process in Nigeria brought in 9 out of about 27 trainees for last year. This has brought a good exposure within the program as graduates expect to build global, and not just Ghanaian, products. Hopefully, this recruitment to Kenya will yield great results for the school and the MEST Incubator.

This change also comes amidst the MEST rebranding and several partnerships that MEST has been signing first with Interswitch, then Vodafone, and recently Samsung. Another less popular news update is the program’s shortened duration, which now brings it to a year of training. This could be a good opening to create more software startups in more countries across Africa. These changes and partnerships may just be unraveling MEST’s new phase as it begins to gets into more territories meeting the changing needs and growing tech ecosystem in Africa.

Kenya has been one of Africa’s favourites when it comes to technology and entrepreneurship on the continent. Hopefully, this change will in a way contribute to startup activity in the East African country. It will be an opening to have more startups which have founders form different countries thus increasing general adoption for software across countries on the continent.

MEST has been known to produce some globally acclaimed startups. How do you think these changes will affect the MEST program and the incubator? Is it even necessary? Share your comments.

Ghanaian Entrepreneurs to Benefit From MEST-Vodafone Partnership

MEST MD, Ekua Odoom signs with Vodafone Ghana CEO, Harris Broumidis

Various initiatives and partnerships have been launched recently to drive entrepreneurship among the Ghanaian youth. Beyond the promises of the government to promote entrepreneurship, other private organisations who realise the need are taking the steps to nurture more entrepreneurs.

The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology needs no introduction when it comes to software entrepreneurship across Africa. With more than 15 startups and 2 acquisitions, the school continues to chart the course of “creating globally successful software companies.”

Vodafone Ghana, one of the most profitable Vodafone branches worldwide, has been involved in providing avenues in the field of software development to bring out the best in Ghanaian youth and creating more economic opportunities. With the Mobile for Good program, and later the Vodafone App Star Competition, the involvement with the community keeps growing. (Evidence by Leti Arts winning the App Star Competition.)

This morning, the official MEST-Vodafone partnership was signed.  Under this partnership, Vodafone with its infrastructure and technology base will nurture and provide support for MEST and its related developer communities. Also at the event, the MEST Vodafone Hackathon lasting the next 3 days was launched. The  hackathon themed, “Powerfully Simple” presents software hackers with 5 categories within which they find pains and build viable solutions over the hackathon period.

Vodafone CEO, Harris Broumidis added that innovation from young entrepreneurs are needed because most groundbreaking software systems come from events like #MESTVodafone Hackathon. Since there is “myopia of operational framework” in large organisations, hackathons provide the platform for thinking out of the box and sparking ingenuity.”  He therefore challenged the participants to, “Go out there and change the world and make the changes that we all deserve.”

We look forward to more of such partnerships as entrepreneurship takes centre stage across the continent. Does this partnership benefit you as a software developer? What are your thoughts and questions?

A Look Into MEST Incubator’s Newest Startups [2014]

Every year, several companies move from the software development training programme of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology to join the existing companies at the MEST Incubator. With 2 acquisitions within nine months (ClaimSync and Saya), little needs to be said about the MEST Incubator and its successes.
This year, the MEST Incubator welcomes 4 successfully funded companies from the MEST Graduating Class of 2014. This post provides an introduction to all the 4 companies who will be outlined in details in following posts.
Beam is a remittance service for Ghanaians and Nigerians living abroad to instantly and affordably send money back home using Bitcoins, a digital currency. The company was co-founded by Nikunj Handa (CEO) and Falk Benke (CTO), both former MEST Teaching Fellows.
Beam is currently in private beta, and will be launching in October 2014. You can sign up to be a part of the Beam beta test at beamremit.com. For more information about Beam, email hello@beamremit.com.
African businesses who wanted a simple, automated payroll solution used to have to choose between solutions that were either poorly optimized for local tax laws, or expensive, bloated alternatives. Enter PaySail!
PaySail is a simple, web-based system that helps Ghanaian businesses run payroll, generate the appropriate tax and social security filings and reports, and pay employees each month.
The founding team is Precious Nyarko (CEO), Samuel Ako (CTO) and Osborn Kwarteng (Biz Dev), all graduates from the MEST 2014 class. PaySail was recently crowned a DEMO LION at DEMO Africa 2014. For more information about PaySail, email info@paysail.co.
For online merchants and store owners, managing multiple stores across platforms such as Amazon and Ebay can be a logistical nightmare.
SynCommerce helps online merchants manage inventory and process orders across multiple sales channels from a centralized dashboard. The co-founders are Christian Osei-Bonsu, Godwin Elorm Adjaho, Albert Fiati and Joel Funu, all graduates from the MEST Class of 2014. For more information about SynCommerce, email info@syncommerceapp.com.
Vestracker is the information management system for the freight forwarding industry, helping freight forwarders seamlessly coordinate between clients, suppliers, and the many different people who help consignments get from one port to another.
The co-founders are Osam Kyemenu-Sarsah (CEO), Fui Dodzi-Nusenu (CTO), Linda Ansong (Biz. Dev), and Emmanuel Anim (Product Manager). For more information about Vestracker, email info@vestracker.com.
The MEST Incubator has produced some of Africa’s best startups, and received lots of media mentions for its contributions to employment and tech development in Africa. Much is expected of this new batch of MEST Incubator companies, and we wish them the best as they seek to make a good name and continue the good works of Africa’s youth.

Kirusa Acquires Ghana’s Mobiile Messaging Platform, Saya Mobile

PRESS RELEASE (source: http://www.kirusa.com/media-news/press-release/2014/20140819)

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Voice Messaging and Social Media Innovator Kirusa has acquired the technology, workforce and intellectual property of Saya 

New Providence, NJ and Accra, Ghana, Tuesday, 19th August, 2014 —Kirusa, the leader in voice messaging and social media mobile apps in emerging markets, today announced that it has acquired Saya Mobile, a Ghana-based provider of instant messaging apps geared specifically for African consumers.Representative of the company’s increasing commitment to the region, this acquisition enhances Kirusa’s expertise and the reach of its InstaVoice mobile app across the African continent. As per the deal, Kirusa has acquired the technology, intellectual property, and workforce of Saya, which will now be working on Kirusa’s mobile applications.

“Africa remains a top priority for our business,” says Inderpal Singh Mumick, CEO of Kirusa. “While there has been astonishing progress of the mobile industry, the biggest impact of mobile in Africa is yet to come. We believe there are advantages to building products specifically for this region and have made the strategic decision to acquire Saya in line with that thinking. Since its inception, Saya has focused on delivering compelling messaging applications that enhance the mobile user experience and are tailored to the mobile consumers in emerging markets, and more specifically, in Africa.”

Founded in 2011, Saya has received wide exposure for its real-time “Street Chat” messaging application.  Based on highly scalable backend architecture, Saya’s platform includes social network integration, location-based and group chat across multiple phone platforms including J2ME, Android and iOS.

“In launching Saya, we wanted to create a world class product but that was made by Africans, for Africans,” says Robert Lamptey, CEO of Saya. “Joining forces with Kirusa is a natural and exciting next step for our team. We remain focused on our goal of placing this technology into the hands of and empowering millions of mobile subscribers. We look forward to realizing this vision together with Kirusa.”

“It was a true pleasure working with Kirusa on the acquisition. The professionalism and understanding displayed by their team during this process has been exceptional. Having known Kirusa’s management for years and supported Saya since its launch, MEST couldn’t be more supportive of Saya becoming a part of a company led by such industry visionaries”, says Neal Hansch, Managing Director of the MEST Incubator program in West Africa.

 “We are thrilled to have Saya’s talented team join Kirusa,” says Mumick. “Robert’s vision for mobile-first solutions in emerging markets matches that of our company and we believe this collaboration will continue to foster more creativity and innovation for the benefit of our customers.”

About Kirusa
Kirusa is the leader in voice messaging and social media mobile apps that enable mobile subscribers to “Have a Voice!” and share their stories with their family and friends across the globe.  Kirusa’s solutions include InstaVoice®, Celeb Connect™ and Sports Connect™ apps, which are offered in partnership with more than thirty-five mobile carriers in Africa, India, LatAm, and Middle East, as well as via the app stores, and are used monthly by over 80 million mobile users in four continents.  Kirusa solutions are built on its patented technology, and its highly reliable and scalable multimodal and cloud platforms, which process over one billion events a month. Kirusa has been recognized as one of top 20 most promising technology companies by Silicon India, and one of top 25 emerging technology companies by Smart Techie magazine. The InstaVoice app won first prize at NJTC Mobile Apps Forum.  Headquartered in New Jersey and led by an experienced team of wireless telecom executives and technologists, Kirusa has offices in four continents. InstaVoice is a US registered trademark of Kirusa, Inc.

For more information, visit: www.kirusa.com

About Saya Mobile
Saya is a mobile messaging company with services that cater to high-growth mobile markets worldwide. It’s application has brought cheap mobile messaging to people who do not have smartphones in emerging economies. Saya Messenger is used in over 35 countries worldwide with Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, India, and Indonesia being it’s biggest markets. Saya Messenger cuts the cost of messaging for people in these markets by over a 1000 times allowing the people that need cheap messaging to enjoy it. Saya’s  Streetchat feature which groups people in the same location into a chatroom was used by feature phone users during the Syrian and Egyptian uprising for communication. The company was a TechCrunch Disrupt finalist in 2012 and has gone on to win other awards both locally and internationally. Saya was founded by Robert Lamptey and Badu Boahen, both graduates of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a program that provides training, investment and mentoring for aspiring technology entrepreneurs in Africa. Saya’s investors include the Meltwater Foundation, Forward Partners and Progress through Business.

For more information, visit: www.saya.im

For further queries, please contact

For Kirusa
Alchemy Corporate Communications
Anju Makin
India Tel: +91-9810170135
USA Tel: +1-973-536-2652
E-mail: anju_makin@alchemycc.com

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