This is MEST Africa's second annual MEST Africa Challenge, a Pan-African pitch competition for scale-ups based in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa or Cote d’Ivoire who are ready to expand into new markets.
Out of nearly 1 000 applicants from across the continent, 50 finalists (10 in each region) were chosen to pitch at the regional finals in Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, Cape Town and Abidjan, held on 27 and 28 February.
Finalists from each regional pitch included:
Cote d'Ivoire: Seekewa, a financing platform that allows Internet users and companies from all over the world to support small agricultural projects in Africa through a voucher system.
Ghana: Ozé, a data insights company that helps businesses make data-driven financial decisions and achieve growth to improve performance.
Kenya: WayaWaya, a fintech company that provides seamless transactions into and within Africa for individuals and businesses.
Nigeria: AMPZ.TV, the LinkedIn for Sports that is developing the next generation of Etos, Drogbas and Aubameyangs through technology.
South Africa: Snode Technologies, a platform that provides real-time cybersecurity for businesses both locally and internationally.
These finalists attended the MEST Africa Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, 10-12 June 2019, where they once again competed head-to-head, this time on a global stage for $50k in equity investment and the opportunity to join the Pan-African MEST incubator community.
Each finalist was allowed just 5 minutes to pitch their company’s profile to the judges and to convince them that they have what it takes to rapidly expand and grow with the African market as well as abroad.
This year, the competition was fierce, with each scale-up having its own unique strengths and bringing something unique to the table. The judges had a hard-task of deciding which of these finalists were worthy of top spot.
In the evening of 11 June 2019, the judges had reached a conclusion. Unable to agree on which of the MEST African Challenge finalists had the potential to make the largest impact on the continent, the judges decided to award Ozé from Ghana, Snode Technologies from South Africa, and WayaWaya from Kenya, each with $50k investment and support from Microsoft!
“We are excited to partner with MEST,” said Microsoft Senior Director, Chris Lwanga. “At Microsoft our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
The winner of this year’s challenge will join MEST Africa's portfolio along with last year's winner, Nigeria's smart accounting platform, Accounteer, which has since gone on to expand into Kenya and raise additional funding.
Niyi Adegboye, Senior Business Developer at Accounteer who presented the winning pitch in 2018, has said: “It was an amazing experience participating in the MEST Africa Challenge 2018. Accounteer is proud to be a part of the MEST portfolio today.” Since winning the Challenge, Accounteer has expanded from Nigeria into Kenya, and has received follow-on funding from Microtraction.
About Snode Technologies
Eight years ago, it decided that the way we approach defence is flawed because of how easy it is becoming to bypass security controls. The World Economic Forum lists cybercrime as one of the top ten risks facing mankind. By 2021, the global cybersecurity spend will be over $1 Trillion, and we would have lost $6 Trillion to cybercriminals.
It was clear that an innovative solution was required to address the risks associated with cybersecurity globally. With this in mind, the Guardian cybersecurity platform was developed with the sole purpose to gain insight into prevailing patterns, which are not visible to the human eye, allowing users to identify attacks before they happen.
Snode, and the Guardian platform’s, unique approach to cybersecurity leverages advanced mathematical algorithms and the power of machine learning to process dynamic data, regardless of format, at scale, and in real-time.
The Guardian platform passively monitors all activity on the network and provides organisations with a “single source of truth” by seamlessly integrating into their network and providing them with a consolidated, interactive dashboard coupled with contextual alerting that enables analysts to proactively respond to all threats.
Its target audience is varied, but its ability to passively defend infrastructure, without affecting critical business operations, has made it attractive to mining, logistics and telecommunication businesses.
Over the next 2–3 years, Snode hopes to scale to the rest of Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East, and says winning the MEST Africa Challenge finals “gives us the platform to access new African markets, build brand awareness and trust across the continent.”