Pan-African entrepreneurial training program, seed fund, and incubator Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) has appointed Aaron Fu as Managing Director for MEST, as the program doubles down on efforts to strengthen its presence across the continent.
Fu brings both significant experience in the African technology, investment and startup landscapes, as well as a vast network in Asia, having previously served as Managing Partner, Africa for NEST.vc.
Fu’s experience both within investment firms and startups and in traditional corporate roles, including Standard Chartered Bank and Societe Generale, throughout Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa, will help MEST to significantly build on its global network, creating a truly Pan-African program that is fully supported and embedded in tech hubs across Silicon Valley, Europe, and Asia.
He will help the firm expand in both depth and reach across Africa by drawing from his extensive experience in East Africa – where he built platforms with the support of innovative companies like Visa, MTN, World Bank and Barclays – to bring MEST entrepreneurs and the wider African startup ecosystem closer together. As part of this expansion, MEST is actively pursuing corporate and brand partnerships that will provide additional resources and support for its entrepreneurs as they grow and scale.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Aaron to the team,” said MEST Founder & CEO, Jorn Lyseggen. “MEST was founded on the idea that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Aaron will be critical to helping MEST deepen and broaden our presence across key regions of the continent so we can reach more talent and provide our existing entrepreneurs with significant resources and an unbeatable network, both in Africa and globally, to help them expand their businesses into new markets or launch in their home countries.”
“I’m excited to join a team that’s making such incredible strides on the continent,” Fu said. “MEST has become truly Pan-African in nature, as evidenced by the diverse community it has built in Accra, Ghana. I’m excited to think about how we can push this out to the rest of the continent. I’ve been both an entrepreneur and investor, and I believe in taking a founder-first approach to scaling startups. I look forward to leading MEST and taking its already substantial impact to the next level.”
MEST provides a 12-month Entrepreneur-in-Training (EIT) program, which infuses African tech enthusiasts with a combination of hard IT and practical business skills, equipping them to build successful commercial tech companies. At the end of the program, teams have the opportunity to pitch for funding and a seat at the MEST Incubator.
Since its inception, the Meltwater Foundation has invested $20 million into the program, supporting aspiring African entrepreneurs through the training program and incubator. Over 350 individual entrepreneurs have graduated from the training program and over 30 tech companies have been launched via seed funding and mentorship from MEST. A number of MEST companies have gone on to raise outside capital and two — Claimsync and messaging app Saya — have been acquired.
Additionally, MEST entrepreneurs have developed solutions addressing local and global markets, received outside follow-on funding from global investors, and have gained admittance to top accelerator programs such as Y-Combinator, 500 Startups and TechStars. MEST entrepreneurs have also been selected by President Obama as representatives of the African business community at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. and have been named Mandela Washington Fellows, a flagship program of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Corporate strategic partners include Samsung, Vodafone and Facebook’s internet.org—all of which have a shared interest in bolstering the emerging tech ecosystem in Africa as means to economic growth.
While Accra, Ghana, will remain Headquarters for the training program, MEST is forging strong roots and establishing incubators in major cities across the continent. MEST currently has a footprint in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. This year the program also welcomed its first Francophone entrepreneurs from Côte d’Ivoire.