Meltwater Group, a leading Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies, has graduated, at least by now, two classes of techies through its Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana.The inaugural class graduated two years ago in the two-year program. MEST was established by the company’s non-profit charitable arm, the , for the benefit of budding young software entrepreneurs. The Foundation opened the school in February 2008 to provide students with the skills to become successful software entrepreneurs in the global marketplace and to help create jobs and wealth locally in Accra, Ghana.
The Meltwater Foundation is the non-profit, charitable arm of Meltwater Group, one of the world’s leading Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. The Foundation currently funds a two-year training program in Accra, Ghana, for budding software entrepreneurs (MEST) as well as an incubator for successful MEST graduates providing seed funding and mentoring.
The Meltwater Group is a privately held software company founded in Norway in 2001 committed to challenging existing business models by introducing disruptive technologies and building a powerful, global sales infrastructure. The Meltwater Group delivers B2B solutions based on search engine technology and cloud computing.
The Meltwater Foundation and MEST were created by Jorn Lyseggen, Meltwater Group’s founder and CEO. “Entrepreneurs play an important role in economic development, creating jobs, wealth and progress,” Lyseggen said. “MEST was established to create a place where talented young people can hone their entrepreneurial skills and build companies that will drive their local economies.”
The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana, is fully funded by Meltwater Foundation, the non-profit, charitable arm of the Meltwater Group. The school opened in February 2008 with the aim of creating jobs and wealth locally in Africa by training young Africans to become software entrepreneurs. During the school’s intensive two-year program, Entrepreneurs in Training (EITs) work with experienced business executives, recent college graduates and MBA consultants to develop software applications and prepare them for launch in the global marketplace.
Through the Meltwater Foundation, trainees accepted into the MEST program receive hands-on training in software development, basic business fundamentals and entrepreneurship in a fast-paced, challenging, start-up environment. During their two years at MEST, the Entrepreneurs in Training (EITs) work with world-class executives from around the world to create their own software prototypes and ultimately start their own companies.
Judging from the quality we are seeing recently from Ghana with regards to the software industry, it does seem that MEST graduates are indeed special breeds. Their products or services are getting attention across the continent and beyond. The likes of Retail Tower and NandiMobile have been impressive.
Though it can be argued that education may not necessarily teach appetite for risk taking, it does help give people the tools needed to become better managers. The MEST school is not just about technology. The education teaches business process, accounting, and finance. So, in that case, any student that has passed through it will have an edge to run a business compared to one at the same level of talent that has not been trained.
As graduates of MEST continue to make exploits, Tekedia will continue to look if indeed Africa needs to move to the model of a graduate level two-year entrepreneurship education. If we benchmark MEST graduates with the regular graduates from universities in Ghana and see that MEST ones build better companies, government may indeed have the data they need to change policy.
It is too early to make any conclusion since MEST as an institution is still guiding and mentoring these graduates. It is only when they are fully on themselves can one ascertain if they can give Africa its version of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and more. But before that happens, we think MEST is offering a service that Africa needs – it does not hurt to get new skills and MEST offers really good ones right now in Ghana.