MEST Express Accelerator grant fund winners are shaking things up in the Ghanaian tech ecosystem
When we first launched the MEST Express Accelerator in late 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had been a new reality for several months. Businesses of all sizes had experienced fast-moving and unexpected impacts for which many existing crisis plans and teams were unprepared. Micro and small enterprises were one of the groups hit the hardest during this time. Many of which could not have anticipated, and thus prepared for, the economic and social disruptions.
We launched a pilot program consisting of 6 MEST portfolio companies including BezoMoney, CoFundie and CodeLn. The impact of the program on the first cohort was clear; early stage startups with high growth potential require critical support to mature to the next phase of growth. Beyond the training, mentorship, and business advice, the program provided capital in the form of grant funding to the most successful startups at the end of each cohort.
To date, we have awarded over $100,000 in grant funding to 12 startups, starting with the second cohort of 2020, enabling them to become investment-ready and also to accelerate their growth plans. These grants have been awarded to the top-performing startups in each cohort — three based in Accra and one in Tamale.
Meet all the grant award winners from the program so far:
Bosea Microcredit is a digital lender using alternative data to assess clients and give them credit.
Over its two-year history, Bosea has disbursed over GHC 1 million in loans with an impressively low default rate. Using their custom in-house AI-powered credit scoring tool, they are able to manage their risk and discover insightful market trends. The next stage in Bosea’s journey is to move from using personal funds as lending capital to onboarding large institutional lenders.
Motito provides access to credit for Africans with a buy now, pay later service that allows individuals to access interest-free credit at point-of-sale. While Motito’s business is similar to several others in the market, they have managed to stand out with an innovative product, smart partnerships, and an effective beta launch strategy. After completing the MEST Express program in 2021, they participated in the Ecobank Fintech Challenge; where they emerged 2nd runners up and are members of Abu Dhabi’s Fintech 100 — a curation of the most promising, innovative, and disruptive Fintech startups from around the world. They are also one of 10 African fintech startups selected to take part in CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa: Special Edition in Dubai.
WeGoo is a logistics delivery enabler for MSMEs and e-commerce businesses. They provide reliable and affordable delivery services using a robust on-demand platform with several thousand completed deliveries under their belt. WeGoo is on a mission to bring convenience to the doorstep of Africans through strategic partnerships with tech enablers across the globe. After completing the MEST Express program in 2021, they have participated in the Conscious Venture Lab’s Accelerator Program, closed partnership deals with Jumia Ghana and Tendo, a MEST portfolio company, and were recently announced as a portfolio company for Tekedia Capital.
Swoove is a platform that enables door-to-door delivery for small and medium businesses across the continent. They are a pre-seed logistics and eCommerce software startup that have been in operation for the last three years. Swoove’s primary mission is to bridge the gap in the market between offline third-party logistics ecosystems and the online e-commerce world. They are doing this through the use of technology and fulfillment infrastructure, creating a massive $100bn opportunity for Africans to do business at scale.
After completing the MEST Express program, they joined Catalyst Fund’s Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator and have raised $120,000 in funding; expanded the team by nearly 50% by hiring new talent; began operations in Kumasi and have spun out two new products in six months, building on their existing growth. Most recently, they placed third at the 2022 Harvard Business School Africa Business Club New Venture Competition receiving a cash prize of $3,000.
Tendo is a social commerce platform that enables anyone to start their online business without investing any capital. They have built a platform that connects independent resellers to suppliers and have helped over 25 companies launch 1,000 incredible products on their platform. Recently, they expanded operations to Nigeria with former MEST entrepreneur-in-training (EIT) Chisom Ukaegbu as the startup’s Country Manager for Nigeria. Tendo has also received support through funding from Google’s Black Founders’ Fund, LoftyInc Capital Management, and Plug and Play Ventures. Adding to these achievements, the team recently took part in the Y Combinator’s W22 batch, and the second cohort of Catalyst Fund’s Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator.
Wi-flix is a leading African-based live streaming and subscriber video on demand provider offering authentic, originally African and international content to subscribers in Africa and the diaspora. They offer premium content at an affordable price point as part of a bold agenda to democratize content in Africa. Since 2021, when they began commercial operations, they have increased their user base from 80,000 to 201,000; produced Wi-flix originals; acquired 10,000 hours of premium content and created jobs and revenue for over 50 filmmakers.
YomYom is a digital logistics marketplace for informal businesses that want to connect with trusted transport providers. They are the premier and only licensed courier service to have started from Northern Ghana since beginning operations in 2015. They provide food and general delivery services to diverse clients in Ghana using fuel and solar-powered electric vehicles. YomYom recently launched ‘Foodwaste to compost’ — a project where they pick up food waste from over 100 partner restaurants and manually convert it to organic waste. This is then sold to over 1000 smallholder farmers at an affordable rate. Since completing the program, YomYom has built a robust logistics platform, improved operations, and increased its revenue.
Wastetrap is an Innovative waste management startup that solves the problem of improper disposal of waste. This is done by providing households with multiple waste bins to encourage the practice of segregation and allow for easy pick-up requests when needed. The waste pick-ups and collection process is then monetized by users of their mobile app.
Vinmak Farms is a grass-root agribusiness focused on providing end-to-end solutions to smallholder farmers along the agric value chain. They provide input credit, mechanization services, extension services, crop protection and market access to smallholder farmers. As part of their growth strategy, they intend to build an e-commerce platform and farmer support center to deliver education, service and inputs at the doorsteps of smallholder farmers.
Kwidex is a crowdfunding platform for agribusinesses. Using smart contract blockchain technology, they provide funds for farmers through investments sourced from users in exchange for returns. They aim to reduce poverty among farmers, contribute to ensuring food security, and give farms a means of earning extra income through investments made. Since graduating from the MEST Express Accelerator, they have had a 30% increase in their user base and are converting leads 2x faster than they did upon joining the program.
Digistore offers an all-in-one digital commerce solution for micro and small enterprises (MSMEs) to manage and grow their business using digital tools, enabling them to access working capital to expand their businesses. Two months after joining the MEST Express program, they have experienced a 15% growth in merchant acquisitions and new partnerships. With the grant funding received, they are looking to launch their business app and upgrade infrastructure to support regional expansion.
Adjoaa is a premium fashion e-marketplace uplifting the vision of designers of African descent. They provide an avenue for various African fashion entrepreneurs to showcase their products and attract buyers in Ghana and beyond. Currently, Adjoaa works with 40 brands from across 10 African countries and others in the Diaspora. Since completing the MEST Express program, they have launched their platform and also raised an amount of $10,000 allocated to marketing and team resourcing with the primary goal of increasing brand presence and sign-ups.