Not One, But Three Winners announced for the MEST Africa Challenge
This post was written by MEST Marketing Manager, Veronica Mulhall, and orginally appeared on MEST Africa's Medium.
The second annual MEST Africa Challenge (MAC) concluded during the MEST Africa Summit in Nairobi this week in a surprising turn of events during which the judges selected not one, but three startups as winners! They have all received a $50,000 in equity investment from MEST Africa and $25,000 of credit from Microsoft, along with full support at the MEST incubator of their choice.
A keynote from Lori Systems’ Josh Sandler describing the logistic company’s Pan-African expansion kicked us off ahead of the finals, in front of a full house of MEST Africa Summit attendees. Each of the five finalists represented their respective countries - Seekewa (Côte d'Ivoire), OZÉ (Ghana), Snode Technologies (South Africa), AMPZ.tv (Nigeria) and WayaWaya Ltd (Kenya) - having emerged from nearly 1,000 applicants and more than 40 semi-finalists of this year’s competition. They each delivered a 5-minute pitch followed by Q&A from a panel of judges, all of whom are key ecosystem stakeholders. The panel of judges included Jorn Lyseggen, Founder & CEO of Meltwater and MEST Africa, Johan Bosini, Partner at Quona Capital, Chris Lwanga, Head of Software Partnerships at Microsoft, and Andreata Muforo, Partner at TLcom Capital.
The judges made their decision based on several criteria including each entrepreneur’s validated problem and solution, business model, market size, MVP, competitor analysis, go-to-market plan and execution, and team buildup. In the end, the judges realize three companies were fit to join the MEST Africa portfolio and extended the award to three startups:
OZÉ (Ghana) - A platform that equips small business owners to make data-driven decisions to improve their performance and access capital. "So many entrepreneurs across the continent don’t know how to convert their ledger books into useful data that can help them make informed decisions to grow. Ozé is a digital platform that helps to unleash the potential of small businesses”, -Meghan McCormick, Co-Founder & CEO
Snode Technologies (South Africa) - A cybersecurity and intelligence business that leverages mathematics to analyze data in real-time at scale. “The World Economic Forum lists cybercrime as one of the top ten threats to humanity; traditional security solutions don’t cut it. Snode is a superior threat detection technology that uses real-time data to protect businesses around the world.” -Nithen Naidoo, Founder & CEO
WayaWaya Ltd (Kenya) - Provides one account to combine your bank, mobile wallet, and SACCO, and makes payments accessible across the world. “Waya Waya is the first cross-border, WhatsApp based platform that offers digital banking and lending for individuals, and a customizable banking solution for businesses.” -Teddy Ogallo, Founder & CTO.
The judges were impressed with different elements from each of the winners and at the same time saw clear areas where MEST could add value to help them reach the next level.
In partnership with Microsoft and VC4A, MEST Africa would like to extend a thank you to all of the MAC 2019 applicants. It is companies like these and their innovations that bring us all closer to an ever-so-vital Pan-African tech ecosystem.
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