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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Ghana hatches start-ups with high hurdles
Friday, 10 February 2012 03:27

Ghana hatches start-ups with high hurdles

Written by Clair MacDougall
Ghana's flag Ghana's flag

West African entrepreneurs seek to chart future of Internet


ACCRA, Ghana (MarketWatch) — In a light blue, three-story concrete house in the suburbs of Ghana’s capital, young entrepreneurs are developing online applications they hope will make them into the Mark Zuckerbergs of Africa.


They spend long days and nights coding, strategizing and preparing to launch new software companies in an environment where competition is becoming stiffer and more Ghanaians are striving to create Web-based offerings they dream might become the next Facebook.


These entrepreneurs are the top graduates of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, an academy at the center of one of the highest-profile efforts to boost software development in sub-Saharan Africa. At the school’s incubator, as well as in other classrooms and informal gatherings around the country, a burgeoning number of tech-savvy people are charting the future of the Web in Africa and hoping to influence the world’s online ecosystem. But they face high hurdles in a continent with low Internet penetration and poor infrastructure, as well as scant progress in literacy.

MEST, set up in 2008 by Jorn Lyseggen, a Norwegian tech entrepreneur and chief executive of the Meltwater Group, graduated its first 20 students in 2010 and 20 more last year. At the light-blue incubator next door, graduates are using seed funding of between $30,000 and $200,000 to develop software businesses that will reach both Ghanaian and global markets.


“What we are trying to do is create a demonstration effect through companies and illustrate that software is a medium to achieve great things,” said Michael Szymanski, MEST’s director of business development.

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