Senegalese B2B marketplace Kwely has been named winner of the 2022 MEST Africa Challenge, securing US$50,000 in equity funding.
Founded in Ghana in 2008 by serial entrepreneur Jorn Lyseggen, MEST is a pan-African software and entrepreneurship training programme, seed fund, and incubator helping to launch technology startups across the continent.
To date, it has trained thousands of entrepreneurs from across the continent and invested in over 80 startups. The MEST Africa Challenge is open to pre-seed to seed-stage technology startups in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and South Africa, and its final demo day concluded with a win for Kwely, a B2B wholesale marketplace for made-in-Africa products.
The startup follows Tanzania’s Kilimo Fresh, Ghana’s OZE, South Africa’s Snode Technologies, Kenya’s WayaWaya, and Nigeria’s Accounteer in receiving US$50,000 in equity investment, access to expert business coaches, mentors, and global investors. The other finalists were Sproutly (Nigeria), Swoove (Ghana), Hisa (Kenya) and Desert Green Africa (South Africa).
“Winning the MEST Africa Challenge really means a lot to me and the Kwely Team. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy but it really is a passion from my heart. Getting this recognition gives us the push and confidence that we need to forge ahead. When things get difficult, it is important to remember that we have a network of amazing people around us who are rooting for us,” said Birame Sock, founder and CEO of Kwely.
“This year’s MEST Africa Challenge competition had five winners from each of our key markets. After reading through hundreds of applications and meeting dozens of brilliant and innovative founders from across the continent, I became even more excited about technology startups on the continent and even more convinced that it would be impossible to pick one overall winner. The talent is just immense! But with the help of our judges and boisterous live and virtual audience, a final overall winner emerged in Birame Sock of Kwely from Senegal. We are thrilled to welcome Kwely into the MEST portfolio,” said MEST Africa’s director of portfolio Melissa Nsiah.