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.

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MEST Shortens Training Period to One Year! Apply Now!

Accra, Ghana
Calling all Ghanaian & Nigerian tech Entrepreneurs, Innovators & Change-makers! Do you know an ideal candidate? Share with them MEST Ghana’s fully sponsored 1 year training program in software development & business development to launch a globally competitive IT company! MEST is looking for the next wave of tech entrepreneurs — could it be you, or do you know someone who qualifies? We are now accepting entrepreneur applications. What We DoMEST offers a 12month/1year fully sponsored program focused on market oriented software development and practical entrepreneurship training. We have trained over 200 IT entrepreneurs and have invested over $15m in supporting software startups that came directly out of MEST. These companies have developed solutions addressing global markets, created jobs, competed in top global technology events such as TechCrunch Disrupt, DEMO, and the Launch Festival, and have gained admittance to top accelerator programs such as HealthXL and 500 Startups. What we offer
  • A 12 month fully sponsored world class training program & access to seed funding for your startup
  • Substantial hands on training in software development and entrepreneurship
  • A unique opportunity to launch and grow your tech company with access to global markets
  • Mentoring and coaching from executives in a variety of global software companies
  • Significant personal and professional growth and exciting career potential
  • Numerous chances to solve real life business problems with innovative solutions
  • Housing, monthly stipend, tuition, meals and a laptop all covered by MEST.
Application Qualifications
  • Passion to start a software company
  • Involved in the tech space either as an entrepreneur, consulting or freelancing
  • Entrepreneurial or corporate work experience is an added advantage
  • Can commit a year in Accra, Ghana participating in the MEST training program starting August 2015
  • Applicants from Nigeria must have completed their NYSC

HOW TO APPLY:Submit an online application form here: http://meltwater.org/school/admissions/For any admissions related inquiry, please contact Amma Baffoe via e-mail at: amma.baffoe@meltwater.org APPLICATION DEADLINE (extended)Ghana & Nigeria 10th May 2015. APPLICATION / SCREENING PROCESSApplication Screening / Selection Process:
  1. Aptitude test-(Saturday 2nd May – Kumasi, Sunday 3rd May – Accra)
    • Kumasi – Saturday 2nd May 2015 (WAEC Hall, Hall4), Time: 10:00am – 12:30pm prompt. Confirm your participation here.
    • Accra – Sunday 3rd May 2015 (Jones Quartey Building, Behind the African Studies Dept. at the Univ. of Ghana, Time: 12noon – 2:30pm prompt). Confirm your participation here.
  2. Lagos – To be announced soon.
  3. Interviews: mid-May – Mid June
  4. Successful candidates announced: Late June

AMMA BAFFOE Director of Marketing & Recruitment, MEST T: +233 303 933 257 | M: +233 20 201 4363 amma.baffoe@meltwater.org | www.meltwater.org

MEST-Vodafone Hackathon Diaries (Day 3, FINALE)

And the winner is…

After three gruelling days of sleepless nights and tireless #hacking, 19 apps were finally showcased in a keenly contested battle of hackers. The five main categories were in health, security/alert services, lifestyle/home services, entertainment/games, and transportation/traffic management services. On the whole for some of the ideas, while not particularly novelty, the implementation was quite interesting. In the spirit of simplification the real trick here was about making the app practical, easily accessible and relevant to Ghanaians.

Team CheckIt crowned 2015 #MESTVodafone Hackathon Champions

This hackathon was by many standards very different. There were three levels of assessment; source code review, functionality implementation and pitches(comprising business, pitch quality among other critics considerations). At the end of the event, two teams emerged as winners and runners up. CheckIt, the 2015 #MESTVodafone Hackathon Champions took on the challenge of addressing the nagging issue fake drug peddling in Africa, particularly in Ghana. While their idea is not necessarily novelty, the simplicity of the implementation, the intuitiveness and appeal of the app, and the potential impact seems to have won the hearts of the highly esteemed judges. RoadMate, on the other hand seeks to give real time traffic updates and suggest shortest routes, public transport fares among many benefits to the regular public transport user in Ghana. They choose the crowd sourcing approach which seems to fill the nagging gap in the current Google Maps and Google Navigator due to the almost none existent addressing system in Ghana.

Team RoadMate comes up runners up in the 2015 #MESTVodafone Hackathon. 

Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology(MEST) and Vodafone Ghana extend their congratulations to the well deserving teams. All the participants are also invited to the after party at GIMPA.

DevCongress, a proud supporter of the biggest true hackathon in Ghana says a big AYIKOOO  to CheckIt and RoadMate. We hope you don’t abandon the idea and go to sleep. For once, let a fully fledged idea come out of a hackathon. That is the dream!

Here is a peep into the winning apps.

RoadMate

 

CheckIT

 

 

Some highlight from the pitch day

MEST-Vodafone Hackathon Diaries (Day 2)

#Hacking continues unabated.

After the festive opening of the biggest hackathon of the year, the #MESTVodafone #Hackathon  kicked into full gear by day 2. 19 teams/app had been fully confirmed. Hacker have worked feverishly all through the night. It was impressive to find people on code-steroids hacking almost nonstop for 48 hours! The energy and drive is amazing. It is a great feeling in here.

The ideas are another thing. The innovation, the simplistic genius and the tenacity to solve problems is most commendable. Definitely one of the hacks must see the light of day.

One of the ideas that caught attention almost immediately is CaptureIT. They present the most simple way to enable journalist get almost instant access to photos of events around the world as they happen. This takes news crowdsourcing up one notch. Even more interesting is Trodini. Imagine yourself late for a very important meeting and want to get there even faster. Trodden is what will get you there. It crowdsources shortest routs to various locations and real time traffic updates to help users get there on time. It also rewards you to posting your shortcut routes.

Trodini gets you there twice as fast!

As promised, this is not going to be your usual #kpakpakpa code. There will be special source code review and feature implementation test before the pitches. Loaded!

Here are other highlights of day 2.

MEST-Vodafone Hackathon Dairies (Day 1)

The sun rose quickly, almost in a hurry to see the hackathon begin. The eventful partnership between Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) was announced in pump and splendour with the C.E.O of Vodafone Harris Broumidis and the Managing Director of MEST Ekua Odoom in attendance.

This was quickly followed by a quick and exciting launch of the hackathon. The participants then went on a pitching spree selling their ideas and skills to another. By end of the day the    150 plus participants had formed 20 teams with different innovative ideas in the areas of Lifestyle and home services, security and alert systems, health, gaming and entertainment, and transportation and traffic. These keenly passionate developers had gathered to brainstorm on pragmatic solutions to pertinent issues plaguing Ghanaians in the above mentioned areas.

“On the whole it has been a great event so far. I have met really nice people and I think we have the winning team (DATEEM). The reception has been great and the food as well. The highest point of my day has the fantastic facilitators who have helped us snapped our idea. This is just great.” says Stephan Froelich, IBM End User Support officer, @frostymarvelous

Here are a few pictures of the day. Stay tuned for more updates. Day 1 is ending but hacking continues unabated. Good luck all.

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?

Solve Real-World Problems At The MEST-Vodafone Hackathon (February 5-7, 2015)

Over the past year, Ghanaian developers have been involved in several hackathons on various sectors in oil and gas, social good, citizenship, etc. Sometimes, I wonder if these activities are able to achieve the desired results. Many teams usually just come for the money and leave.

I have been fortunate to witness just about 2 MEST hackathons It gets more exciting as the years go by, from being in the winning team two years ago to covering it last year. The participation of developers outside MEST has increased over the years, same for the organisations involved.

This year, MEST has partnered with Vodafone Ghana to host the 2015 MEST-Vodafone hackathon which comes off from Feb 5 – 7. This is a major development as the telecoms company is beginning to gain an interest in the developer space and tech in general. First with App Star, then Mobile for Good. This hackathon promises to be better as it looks at simplifying processes across various sectors in Ghana, processes we long for daily.

It’s an opportunity to build products which provide access to information, simplify transactions, and shorten business processes, etc. As usual the prizes have been bumped up for this year – I caught wind of something exciting, details will be out later. Just stay tuned to hear more about the prizes for this year.

Participation is free, register through this link, the seats are limited. Hackathons are fast becoming a part of Ghanaian tech culture now. I hope we begin to fully appreciate and continue development on the products which are built at these events. I look forward to this hackathon. Will you be there? Any experiences of hackathons to share?

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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What an amazing run!

Amazing first year! Whew. What a run! We sit here today looking back at how big we have grown in such a short time. But the real credit goes to YOU. Yes you our treasured +DevCongress member. You gave life to our dreams and made it all worthwhile. So before we say thank you we would like to have a quick retrospective look that the year 2013.

In August, you came out on a limb of faith to see what this +DevCongress noise was all about. We met at MEST and delved in to new technologies that can drive our developer space in Ghana and Africa, and a very fruitful panel discussion around electronic payment in Ghana. We discussed among other things how we can drive the space and make it more effective. Not only were you guys full of wonderful ideas but you also contributed massively towards the open source projects. Special gratitude to  all who have contributed so far. We are amazed. They are still in progress and will be launching soon. Keep fingers crossed.

Then in October you came out again for the first ever e-commerce hackathon in Ghana organized by DevCongress and the able partnership of SMSGh at +iSpace. We made ourselves proud that day by building useful projects on the SMSGh APIs as well as the MPower Payments API. Kudos to all the winners. But you know that for showing up alone you are a winner in your own right, right? Yes you are. DevCongress is about inspiring confidence and if you had the guts to show up, then we have won. 😉 Does this look familiar?

By your relentless contribution, we have one of the most vibrant tech forums in Ghana. Thank you all for sharing resources, links, ideas, and answers to questions posed to the forum. In 2014 we look forward to an even more dynamic and vibrant  forum. Ours will be the Stack Overflow of Africa. Do you promise to make it so?

Also we were humbled by the massive support we enjoyed from MEST, Blogging Ghana, SMSGh, MTN and Joy FM. These organizations did not only commit resources to the DevCongress cause but showed incredible confidence in us even before we proved ourselves. How do we say “thank you” enough?

In the coming year, we plan for greater things. Full steam innovation and crazy hacking! Put on you gear and brace yourself because it is all about disruption! We will disrupt the tech space in Ghana and that is a PROMISE! We will keep you posted.

For now we just want to say a massive thank you for your immense support and unflinching confidence in DevCongress. We are truly grateful to have you on board.

Finally, to wrap it all up what should we call a DevCongress member? If your suggestion wins, we will tell you what is in store for you. It will blow your mind away. So what should we call you?


We wish you all happy holidays and the very best in the coming year.