BrandArena: Application Begins For MEST Africa Challenge

Friday 20 March 2020

Application Begins For MEST Africa Challenge

The MEST Africa Challenge is the African tech startup pitch competition for early-stage companies based in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Senegal, Ethiopia or Tanzania.

Winners of each country’s semi-final competition will compete in the Challenge finals at the MEST Africa Summit 2020. Finalists will compete on a global stage in front of entrepreneurs, investors, corporate partners and ecosystem players for the chance to win $50k in investment from the Meltwater Foundation, and the opportunity to join the MEST Africa incubator community.

Applications for this year’s Challenge are open from March 16 to April 18, 2020, and the top 10 startups will pitch at MEST Incubator locations or local partners offices on the following dates (exact dates subject to change if the Challenge moves to online):

  • Lagos, Nigeria: Friday, May 1st
  • Johannesburg, South Africa: Monday, May 4th
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Friday, May 8th
  • Accra, Ghana: Monday, May 11th
  • Nairobi, Kenya: Monday, May 11th
  • Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire: Tuesday, May 12th
  • Kigali, Rwanda: Thursday, May 14th
  • Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Monday, May 18th
  • Dakar, Senegal: Friday, May 22nd


  • Pre-seed or seed-stage (have raised $100k total or less cumulatively since inception)
  • Currently generating revenue
  • Can demonstrate traction in one or more of the nine MAC Markets (Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda)
  • Has been in operations for 2 years or less
  • Tech-enabled (software company)
  • Industry agnostic
  • Any business model (B2B, B2C, B2B2C, B2G etc…)
  • Francophone applicants must pitch in English

“There is more talent in Africa than there are opportunities. This is what we’ve learned after twelve years of training, funding, and supporting tech founders and startups. In order to bring more investment to African economies and strengthen the tech ecosystem (as a whole) for startups to thrive, we’ve expanded the MEST Africa Challenge to four new markets this year,” said Ashwin Ravichandran, Managing Director, MEST.

In 2018, the inaugural MEST Africa Challenge saw over 700 applications from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.

Forty semi-finalists made it into regional pitch competitions in Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, and Cape Town. A Nigeria-based cloud accounting company, Accounteer was the first year’s winner. In 2019, three startups, Kenya’s WayaWaya Ltd, South Africa’s Snode Technologies, and Ghana’s Oze, were tied for first place. All three winners were offered $50,000 in private equity investment and $25,000 worth of products from Microsoft.

For inquiries, please email us at

While the MEST Africa Summit is contingent on the progression of the COV-19 in Africa and across the world, we don’t anticipate any interruptions to the MEST Africa Challenge as, if need be, the competition can run virtually. MEST Africa is closely following government and international guidelines to make ongoing decisions, and changes will be communicated far in advance.

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