The Accra-based MEST incubator has appointed Aaron Fu as the new Managing Director. His appointment comes hot on the heels of an expansion drive by the incubator to have its footprint across the African continent, and Fu is expected to be at the helm of this scaling up the program.
MEST, founded back in 2008, aims at providing training and seed funding to innovators in Africa and see them grow into successful commercial tech companies. Fu joins MEST after serving in an almost similar post as the Managing Partner at Nest.
Fu is also credited for having started Metta Kenya, backed by Nest to provide a space for tech entrepreneurs and investors to connect. The current interim MD at MEST, Katie Sarro, will move on to become Head of Partnerships and Fundraising.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Fu said he wants to devote much of his effort to expanding MEST outreach and impact. “A very big part of that is figuring out what elements we’ve rolled out in Accra that will scale to the rest of the market.
As the organization transitions to becoming a multi-country entity, there’s going to be some organizational changes… to make sure MEST’s impact also scales.”
MEST currently has a foothold in Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, and South Africa where it is actively recruiting. MEST is also planning to open physical incubator spaces across the countries it is running its programs.
“We want to connect our… startups to markets, resources customers, and teams from all across Africa to make their dream of building truly pan African companies a reality.”
Innovation Spaces are increasingly launching across Africa
MEST expansion drive is consistent with the market trend across Africa, where incubation and innovation spaces have been rapidly spreading over the last ten years. That is according to stats by GSMA tally, which also shows that these incubation spaces are changing from a funding model to an investment model of business.
That can be attested to by Kenya’s iHub launch of a startup fund this year. The same can also be said about Nigeria’s CcHub which also started the Diaspora Challenge to tap into the innovations, talents, and investment streaming into Africa from Africans living abroad.
MEST is also transitioning into the investment space
Fu has confirmed the launch a VC firm by MEST soon. The new MD sees a broader benefit to tech startups mushrooming up across Africa with the MEST expansion.
“We’d like to connect all these smaller, vibrant ecosystems across the continent to present one unified ecosystem.
We definitely believe in building businesses, not apps. By doing that you create hero figures to inspire the next generation. That inspires capital to be unlocked across the world to invest in African tech.”