With some help from tech conglomerate Microsoft, MEST Africa, a pan-African entrepreneurial training program and seed fund organisation closed its fourth successful tech summit in Nairobi, Kenya.
Some of the largest investors, entrepreneurs, ecosystem players and executives from across Africa came in their droves to observe some of the innovators and rising tech stars in Africa strut their stuff. Topics ranging from healthcare to data in the fintech space were discussed.
Keynotes from MEST Founder Jorn Lyseggen, Microsoft’s Chris Lwanga and Lori’s Josh Sandler were followed by key speakers this year including Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Philip Thigo, Andreata Muforo (Partner, TLcom), Bilha Ndirangu (CEO, Africa’s Talking), Ngozi Dozie (Co-Founder, Carbon) as well as representatives from Google Launchpad, Safaricom, the African Development Bank and more.
The main partner in the Summit was Microsoft, with additional sponsorship coming from Liquid Telecom, Africa’s Talking, Oracle, Intel, Lori Systems, Flutterwave, Stratlink, Ethiopian Airlines and a number of ecosystem partners.
300 guests were entertained inside the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi on conference day and the Nairobi Garage, home of MEST Africa’s Nairobi Incubator on Ecosystem Day. The atmosphere was said to be lively and bubbling.
Conference day commenced with The Great Debate, which was back by popular demand as candidates argued in favour of their home countries to prove which is better to start a business.
At the end of the day, we had the finals of the MEST Africa Challenge; an annual Pan-African pitch competition, and ended with a twist. Rather than choosing a single winner as had been the custom, judges awarded $50,000 in equity investment from MEST and $25,000 in credit from Microsoft to each of three startups: Oze from Ghana, Snode Technologies from South Africa and WayaWaya from Kenya.
On Ecosystem day, discussions on a number of topics ranging from AI to loT saw the emergence of new thought leaders who outlined the main opportunities and challenges that face the next generation of entrepreneurs. On June 12, workshops designed for entrepreneurs and developers were introduced in conjunction with sponsors Microsoft Azure, Liquid Telecom, Intel, Stratlink and MEST.
Aaron Fu, Managing Director at MEST Africa, mentioned,
“It’s our fourth year running the Summit and it always serves as a reminder of what Africa can achieve with the right blend of talent and experience. Over the three days, it’s always amazing to observe how the relationships between attendees grow, and the fact that we are able to facilitate that is something we never take for granted. We started this with the aim of creating a space for honest discussions on how the continent can continue to move forward and markets can come together – my personal hope is that we continue to see this grow and that more collaborations across markets take shape.”
MEST has been operating on the continent for over a decade now, successfully training 330 individuals and aiding in the launch of 60 tech start up companies. Five companies have exited, including Amplify Payments Ltd. which was recently purchased by leading Nigerian fintech player, One Finance Limited to further develop the payments ecosystem in Nigeria.
Since MEST launched in 2008 in Accra, Ghana, it has been driving some of the continent’s most successful entrepreneurs while also achieving Pan-African and global recognition. MEST has invested over $22M to date, with portfolio companies going on to receive follow-on funding.