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11 African Startups win $1.1 million MEST grant

11 African Startups have won $100,000 at the latest Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, (MEST) Africa incubator programme for 2019. 

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MEST Africa

11 African startups have won $100,000 each at the latest Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology’s (MEST) Africa incubator programme for 2019. 

The incubator programme was used to mark the graduation ceremony of the latest cohort of startups that participated in over a decade length of MEST’s existence. 

13 startups participated in the pitch event but only 11 were successful as they retained the hosting rights to launch 30 MEST-portfolio companies. This investment becomes the largest single round it has made in one cohort till date. 

[READ MORE: ShowMax vs Netflix is a battle David will lose to Goliath]

The teams include those from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. 

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Ghana ranks first with the highest number of startups which include: 

  • a digital savings platform, BezoMoney 
  • a female-focused healthcare service aggregator, Massira 
  • a big data platform, Adi+Bolga; and  
  • a merchant-lender financing platform, Niqao. 

Ghana is followed by Nigeria with startups which include:   

  • a beauty platform, Zuri; 
  • a studio booking service, CoVibes; and
  • a real-estate crowdfunding platform, Cofundie. 

[READ ALSO: You could end up in jail if you use WhatsApp like this]

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Kenya startups also benefitted from the incubator with three startups consisting of: 

  • a Mobile money ticketing startup, Saada 
  • a healthcare service, Nadia; and  
  • a farm produce distribution platform, Farmula. 
South Africa is the fourth with only one startup (Kweza) to benefit from the fundraiser.

The prize money: The 11 companies won $100,000 each in investment from MEST which will culminate into $1.1 million, making them a part of the 60 early-stage software companies, in the industries ranging from e-commerce to agritech, fintech, healthtech, and AI-supported by MEST. 

Nairametrics report stated that MEST had invested the sum of $22 million dollars in its incubators till date with more follow-on-funds to come. 

About MEST: Launched in 2008, MEST is a Pan-African training programme, seed fund, incubator and hub for technology entrepreneurs in Africa, providing critical skills training in software development, business and communications, as well as seed funding and incubation. Headquartered in Accra, Ghana, with a presence in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire, MEST is funded by the Meltwater Foundation, the non-profit arm of Meltwater, a global leader in media intelligence and Outside Insight. 

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Reincarnated as a lover of stocks, Angel investors, seed funds, and anything aligned to tech or startups raising money, Joseph's work at Nairametrics involves following the money to wherever it leads. Before joining Nairametrics, he won an investigative journalism fellowship with ICIR, appeared in several national dallies, with hard-hitting opinions, features and investigative pieces. He has also engaged in content marketing and copywriting for a top e-commerce firm in Nigeria.

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Economy & Politics

Senate rules out the use of unclaimed dividends to fund 2021 Budget

The Senate has ruled out the Federal Government’s proposed plan to use unclaimed dividends to fund the 2021 Budget.

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The Nigerian Senate has ruled out the use of unclaimed dividends to fund the 2021 Budget.

The objection was raised by Senator Suleiman Kwari, the lawmaker representing Kaduna North District Zone I, at today’s senate plenary in Abuja.

While speaking on the creation of an unclaimed dividend and unutilised bank balance trust fund where dividends declared and unclaimed will be held, as stipulated in the 2020 Finance Bill, Kwari said the subsequent request of these dividends by the owners would deter the government’s activities if relied on.

Kwari called on the Federal Government to rule out the use of unclaimed dividends to fund the 2021 budget and consider a more sustainable and relatively option like the Pension Fund Administrative instead.

What they are saying

Speaking at the Senate plenary today, Senator Suleiman Kwari said: “I wish to commend some of the ways the Executive has put before us, measures to fund the 2021 budget. Some of them are really commendable. But Some of the ways here might be counter-productive.

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“I want to single out the use of unclaimed dividend to fund the 2021 budget. I think it should be reviewed by the Executive because if eventually, the owner of these funds come up to claim them, the fund will not be readily available for use.

“I urged the Federal Government to look at something like the Pension Fund Administrative instead of hoping on the unclaimed fund.”

What you should know

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year disclosed that the total value of unclaimed dividend in the Nigerian capital market closed 2019 at N158.44 billion, with over N100 billion of the dividend from unclaimed shares.
  • However, the House Committee on Capital Markets and Institutions raised an alarm over the growing unclaimed dividends in the capital market, which was projected to cross the N200 billion mark at the close of 2020.
  • Following this projection, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance at a webinar organised by KPMG in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, disclosed that the Federal Government was considering the creation of an unclaimed dividend and unutilised bank balance trust fund where dividends declared and unclaimed will be held.
  • Through this, the unclaimed dividends would be handed over to the government, as trustee, in the perpetual fund created under the supervision of the CBN & DMO, with private sector involvement in the governance of the fund.

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Tech News

WorldRemit and The Nest partner to empower entrepreneurs in Nigeria, 3 others

WorldRemit has partnered with The Nest to empower entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Zimbabwe.

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WorldRemit, a global fintech platform, has partnered Nigeria’s tech innovation hub, The Nest, to empower entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Zimbabwe.

This was disclosed by the company via a statement issued on Wednesday, and seen by Nairametrics.

According to the statement, the partnership is to build scalable business models across Africa via the WorldRemit Entrepreneurs Program.

In its quest to go beyond digitalizing payment methods across the globe, strengthen its renewed commitment to creating opportunities, and facilitate development in Africa, WorldRemit will now equip African entrepreneurs with effective skill sets and tools to build, innovate, and scale their businesses.

Country Manager (Nigeria and Ghana), WorldRemit, Gbenga Okejimi, explained that the partnership came right in time for impact, as many small businesses had taken a hit in the course of the tumultuous year.

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He lauded the efforts of the team at The Nest Hub for their resolve at ensuring continuous education, and enabling a thriving environment for start-ups and small businesses.

He said, “Much of what Africa is today is due to its entrepreneurship, which is a key driver for socio-economic progress through significant job creation and innovation.

“At WorldRemit, we want to be known for fostering the African entrepreneurship spirit. We want to be a part of Africa’s future prosperity. By helping build entrepreneurs across our African markets, we are enabling growth and development.”

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Co-founder, The Nest, Oluwajoba Oloba, explained that the Entrepreneurs Program will serve as a catalyst in building scalable business models across Africa as the continent enters into a new wave of business revolution.

He said, “The entrepreneurs will be equipped with effective skills and tools required to build and scale their businesses. The Nest definitely plays a big role in this important partnership, as the project partner leads the designing of the digital business course, otherwise known as the learning modules, that would be used in training selected entrepreneurs while also mentoring them on innovative ways to manage and scale their businesses.”

He added that beyond training and mentoring, The Nest provides entrepreneurs, creatives, start-ups, and small businesses with dynamic facilities and workspaces.

What you should know

  • The WorldRemit Entrepreneurs Program will run simultaneously in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, from November 2020 through January 2021.
  • It is expected to empower 50 aspiring and budding entrepreneurs.

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Energy

FG says vehicle owners to pay N250,000 to convert from petrol to autogas

FG says owners in the country will have to pay N250,000 to have their cars converted to autogas from petrol.

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FG says vehicle owners to pay N250,000 to convert from petrol to autogas

The Federal Government has revealed that vehicle owners in the country will have to pay N250,000 to have their cars converted to autogas from petrol.

This disclosure was made on Wednesday, December 2, 2020, by the Technical Adviser on Gas Business and Policy Implementation to Minister of State for Petroleum, Justice Derefaka, while on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, which was monitored by Nairametrics.

READ: FEC okays N5.4 billion for gas parks, airport security project 

While stating that the conversion of vehicles from petrol to autogas will take at least 7 hours at the various conversion centres, Derefaka also pointed out that vehicle owners will have different payment plans to perform the conversion.

What they are saying

Derefaka, who is also the Programme Manager, Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Project, said:

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The cost varies. So, in terms of cost implication, it depends on the cylinder of the vehicle and of course, for a typical SUV cylinder, it is a bit higher. On the average, it is around N200,000 to N250,000 and this is for a four-cylinder vehicle, but it becomes a little bit higher for a six-cylinder SUV vehicle.”

READ: Ikeja Electric tops with 10.7% approved meter allocation – NERC

Nairametrics earlier reported that the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, disclosed that the corporation is going to provide free conversion services in some selected NNPC retail filling stations across the country.

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Derefaka further explained that there will be different payment plans for making the conversion, adding that vehicle owners can have agreement with commercial banks to get the conversion done.

READ: FG to make forex available to oil marketers for import to drive down petrol price

He also said, “The owner of the car basically will decide to say I want to run on autogas or CNG or LNG and like the Honourable Minister had mentioned as well, conversion basically has different strands, you can partner with your bank and then the bank will now agree with the conversion centre to say ‘Convert this our customer’s car for free.’

“Not free in its entirety, but you now go and covert your vehicle. What happens is that the installer will put some form of mechanism, that each time you buy the gas; a certain amount will be deducted to pay for the conversion kits.”

While dismissing the notion amongst many Nigerians that the conversion fee is expensive, the ministerial aide noted that payment can be done within 5 to 7 months, in addition to saving up 45-50% cost associated with petrol.

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READ: My recent experience selling a car on Carvana, lessons for Nigerian startups

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What you should know

  • The Federal Government had on Tuesday launched the autogas scheme, called the National Gas Expansion Programme.
  • The programme involves the conversion of fuel-powered cars and generators from petrol to gas, and is aimed at deepening domestic usage of natural gas in its various forms.
  • The programme is also in line with the Federal Government’s plan to make gas the first choice source of cheaper and cleaner energy. This follows the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry with sharp increases in prices of petrol.
  • The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources said that the availability of Autogas as an alternative fuel option will afford Nigerians cheaper, cleaner and additional choice of fuel. Cheaper than the price of petrol and better for automobile and other engines.

READ: Hyundai to invest $87 billion into producing 44 new electric vehicles 

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