The GPS
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The GPS

How MEST is Helping Ghanaian SMEs Scale

It’s been an incredible year so far for the companies participating in the current MEST Scale accelerator for SMEs. Over the past few months, we have worked with the leaders of 12 innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana helping to support their scale ambitions as they prepare for the next phase of growth. Through industry-specific workshops and bespoke advisory sessions with sector experts and investors, participants have been equipped with key resources needed to build effective sustainable strategies towards scaling up their businesses and increasing their impact.

Since the program kicked off in December last year, the companies have participated in monthly plenary sessions designed to help address key aspects of scaling. The sessions involve practical workshops and in-depth presentations led by the MEST Scale team and sector experts, designed to give leaders from each company an opportunity to build new and existing skills as they work towards developing their scale plans.

UNDERSTANDING GROWTH STAGE VS SCALE STAGE

The first session, held in December, focused on defining and understanding what it means to scale. For many startups and SMEs, there is often confusion about what it means to be at growth versus scale stage. Scaling occurs when there is an increase in revenue without a significant increase in costs and resources. Growth refers to the increase of revenue and resources. Differentiating between these two stages of growth is incredibly important as it helps businesses understand what is required for scale readiness and if their businesses are well-positioned for exponential growth that is sustainable. Experiencing product-market fit and hypergrowth does not necessarily mean a business’ success is guaranteed.

DEVELOPING THE SCALE FRAMEWORK

In January, with a strong understanding of scaling established, the next session highlighted the practical side of scaling. Several key areas of scaling, including market assessment, setting scale objectives, and scalable unit articulation were introduced to provide a strategic framework for high-growth planning.

ALIGNING WITH THE SCALE OBJECTIVES

February’s plenary session then saw the companies diving deeper into particular areas of their business operations, aligning these activities with their scaling plans and objectives. As businesses increase their productivity, the importance of structure and alignment across all functions is critical to the overall growth of the company. Standardising and streamlining processes ensures that your team understands, is invested in, and is strategically aligned with the business objectives.

In March, a special session was held in collaboration with Catalyst Fund’s Inclusive Digital Accelerator’s second cohort which includes three MEST portfolio companies — Tendo, Shopa and Swoove. The session placed emphasis on leadership and organisational culture, and the importance of adopting a growth mindset as a team. Investing in your company’s talent pool, by providing necessary skills and training development to take on additional functions, is essential for scaling.

The final session, held at the end of April, centred on investment readiness and capital linkages and involved sessions led by representatives of Wangara Green Ventures, Societe Generale, ABSA, Fidelity Bank and UNCDF. It signalled the end of phase one for the cohort — a key turning point in which only six companies with high-scalability, and are tech-driven, would continue on in the program. Leading up to the end of the program, these promising businesses will continue to work with MEST, the Mastercard Foundation as well as our pool of experts and investors on the successful implementation and execution of their scale strategies.

BUILDING A GROWTH MINDSET

In March, a special session was held in collaboration with the second cohort of the Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Accelerator which includes two MEST portfolio companies — Tendo and Shopa, as well as Swoove, a startup that graduated from the MEST Express accelerator. The session placed emphasis on leadership and organisational culture, and the importance of adopting a growth mindset as a team. Investing in your company’s talent pool, by providing necessary skills and training development to take on additional functions, is essential for scaling.

The final session, held at the end of April, centred on investment readiness and capital linkages and involved sessions led by representatives of Wangara Green Ventures, Societe Generale, Absa, Fidelity Bank and UNCDF. It signalled the end of phase one for the cohort — a key turning point in which only six companies with high-scalability would continue on in the program. Leading up to the end of the program, these promising businesses will continue to work with MEST, the Mastercard Foundation as well as our pool of experts and investors on the successful implementation and execution of their scale strategies.

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