Innovation Awards Entrepreneurs in Africa: Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology
Meltwater Group in San Francisco, California, USA, received the Stevie Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year in The 2011 American Business Awards for the company’s work encouraging and fostering Ghanaian entrepreneurial talent. The 2012 American Business Awards is now open for entries - get your entry kit - and will include the new Best of the ABA Awards. The second early-bird entry deadline is December 14.
Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is the brainchild of Jorn Lyseggen, the founder and CEO of the Meltwater Group. MEST was founded in 2007 in Accra, Ghana, by Meltwater Group’s nonprofit arm, the Meltwater Foundation.
As one of the least developed continents in the world, Africa is home to many stagnant economies where highly educated individuals have few job opportunities. Jorn, however, recognized this as an exceptional opportunity to transfer Meltwater’s knowledge and experience beyond the company walls and into the global community.
Entrepreneurs in Training
MEST is a non-profit, three-phase, entrepreneurial training program that provides training and mentoring to young African entrepreneurs aspiring to launch new, Ghana-based software companies. “Entrepreneurs in Training” (EITs) are selected through a comprehensive interview process by a panel of successful global entrepreneurs.
Upon selection, the EITs begin Phase One, a rigorous, two-year training course.
Those EITs with business ideas that are deemed to be viable then move on to Phase Two—Incubation—where graduates from the training program are given an opportunity to bring their business ideas to life through seed funding, access to advisors, and office space.
Finally, in Phase Three, the Meltwater Foundation and its network of experienced mentors and advisors provide assistance for companies that emerge from the MEST Incubator.
One of MEST’s biggest accomplishments is the burgeoning success of the current students and their companies, which include RetailTower, Nandi Mobile, Streemio, and Leti Games. In some cases these companies are utilizing corporate partnerships with retailers, telecommunications companies, or banks to distribute solutions to the market.
One specific success story is that of Wesley Kirinya and Eyram Tawia. Wesley and Eyram created Leti Games, which through MEST’s guidance and support became Africa’s first commercial contribution to the multibillion-dollar computer gaming industry. MEST awarded the company $100,000 in seed financing that turned it from an idea into a functioning business. It's first game, iWarrior, is available for download on iTunes.
The success of MEST and its students is made even more significant when taking the Ghanaian economy into consideration. Prospective Ghanaian entrepreneurs face an uncertain marketplace with little economic or political stability. Last year it was reported that Ghana dropped in the ranks relating to the ease of doing business, falling to 95 among the 183 economies and to 113 for ease of obtaining credit.
A Bright Future
With young Ghanaians constituting over 40% of the country’s population, the potential impact that MEST could have on the country as a whole is immense. MEST was a challenging undertaking. It was the first program of its kind in Africa, and there is still no similar program in this part of the world helpting guide potential software entrepreneurs. The sophistication of the technology, ideas, and ultimate success of companies such as Leti Games are a testament not just to the success of the MEST program, but also to the promise of further innovations that will emerge from Africa in the future.
About Jorn Lyseggen
In 2001, with only $15,000, Jorn founded Meltwater News, a business-to-business media search engine company offering business-intelligence services. That company has now grown into the Meltwater Group. As CEO, Jorn leads the expansion of Meltwater with new ventures in the Software as a Service (SaaS) market. Jorn also founded the non-profit Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), designed to provide training and mentoring to young African entrepreneurs aspiring to launch new, Ghana-based software companies.
A Norwegian entrepreneur and patent holder with four start-ups, Jorn has two trade sales and one IPO to his credit. The most rewarding aspect of Jorn's career continues to be helping young people develop into confident and capable managers.
Jorn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Bergen Ingeniorhogskole in Norway, and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, with specialization in digital signal processing and artificial intelligence, from Iowa State University. He also studied entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School. Jorn and his family now live in Palo Alto, California.
About The Meltwater Group
The Meltwater Group is a privately held software company founded in Norway in 2001. It currently serves more than 20,000 clients through 57 offices located across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Meltwater is committed to challenging existing business models by introducing disruptive technologies. The Meltwater Group delivers B2B solutions based on search engine technology, cloud computing, and search engine marketing. For more information, please visit http://www.meltwater.com.