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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Meltwater: Training Tech Entrepreneurs in Ghana

Before I left Ghana yesterday I had a chance to run by the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and spoke to Ylva Strander, the managing director of this two year old institution. Their mission is to train up technology entrepreneurs with the skills and acumen to take part on the global stage. It’s run out of a large building in Accra with enough space to run the program for 60 students and their trainers.

Meltwater - Eyram

Every six months, hundreds of potential “Entrepreneurs in Training” go through a rigorous screening process, which are finally whittled down to 20 finalists. It’s a two year program where young technologists are taught business and refined technology skills.

Their goal: by the end of their time at MEST, come up with a viable business plan for the Meltwater Incubator to fund.

The first graduating class is due to walk out of the building to present their business plan this year. They will have the opportunity for seed funding, which teams of them have been working on since they began this process almost 24 months ago. These are all supposed to be internationally-focused businesses, not locally-focused on Ghana.

The whole operation is a not-for profit, funded by the Meltwater Foundation, part of the Meltwater Group in Europe. The idea is for the Foundation to hold an undisclosed equity stake in the startups, then sink that money back into the educational institution for sustainability. The seed capital used to get the startups going was also unclear, but probably in the $15-50k range.

I asked Ylva why they chose Ghana, after all, there are a couple of good spots to do this type of operation across the continent. Ghana was chosen due to it being an English speaking country with good connectivity, proximity to the US and Europe, a stated government focus on ICT and political stability. It came down to a choice between Ghana and Uganda, with Ghana winning out due to stability and the general higher level of business ambition.

MEST is an impressive undertaking, and one that is hard to duplicate due to the upfront costs of running an institution and the time needed to prove it out as being successful or not. All of the students that I met, and I met a good number, were incredibly bright and engaging. If MEST truly does arm them with the best training, then I believe there could be a higher than average number of “wins” coming from the graduates.


  1. Hi Erik,
    I really enjoyed reading your post and your thoughts on Meltwater Enterpreneurial School of Technology. Glad you were able to visit and talk to Ylva! She’s the woman.

  2. I am flattered to be termed ” incredibly bright and engaging” . We all look forward to making MEST proud.

  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit Meltwater’s Entrepreneurial School of Technology. Your article was a great overview of this inspiring program.

  4. Well done MEST, its good to see an institution like yours believing in the raw materials (brain talent, i mean) already available in Africa and making them realise their potentials. At least you are not a PEST but Making Economic Stability in Technology a reality. Thank you.

  5. What a great idea being featured, and I think there is so much potential here. It’s refreshing to hear about innovative new ideas springing up in places like Ghana. Thanks for featuring these stories!

  6. Joseph Essandoh

    June 22, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I have always wanted to be part of this training or family.

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