MEST Africa has announced Senegalese tech startup Kwely as the winner of the 2022 edition of the MEST Africa Challenge (MAC); a pan-African tech startup pitch competition.
Kwely is a digital made-in-Africa products distribution platform founded by Birame Sock, a Senegalese entrepreneur. The startup joins MAC’s winning startups such as Tanzania’s Kilimo Fresh, Ghana’s OZE, South Africa’s Snode Technologies, Kenya’s Waya Waya, and Nigeria’s Accounteer to receive $50,000 in equity investment, access to expert business coaches, mentors, and global investors.
“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,” Birame Sock, founder and CEO of Kwely, said.
The female-founded startup emerged as the winner out of four other startup finalists from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. The announcement was made at the Demo Day and Final Pitch Competition held in Accra to culminate a four-month period of shortlisting over 500 tech startups from 5 African countries.
Speaking on the MEST Africa Challenge’s Grand finale, MEST Africa’s Director of Portfolio, Melissa Nsiah said:
“This year’s MAC competition had 5 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.”
Since its inception in 2018, the MEST Africa Challenge (MAC), has provided a platform for hundreds of technology startups all across the continent to raise funding, build industry networks and gain global visibility. This year’s competition opened in July and received hundreds of applications from startups in 5 African markets – Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa.
The 2022 MEST Africa Challenge was organized in association with Absa Bank Ghana and supported by Codeln, Copianto, Google, Dream VC, Heny, Impact Hub- Dakar, Hubspot for Startups, Paystack, Wiflix.
Grace Anim-Yeboah, Director of Business Banking at Absa Bank said, “We are a bank that is interested in the total transformation of the continent through innovation and creativity. Every day we see great potential all around us and it excites us. Our partnership with MEST is a true stroke of inspiration and will provide lots of opportunities for startup companies and also provide next-generation ideas for the continent’s socio-economic growth. I am happy for the winning team from Senegal; we look forward to a closer collaboration with you and the others, as we look forward to creating an ecosystem that will feed the world.”
Following the application stage through the competition’s online portal, a shortlist of 36 technology startups from 5 African countries was announced to enter the regional pitch competition, from which the final 5 finalists were chosen. The finalists and regional winners; Sproutly (Nigeria), Kwely (Senegal), Swoove (Ghana), Hisa (Kenya) and Desert Green Africa (South Africa) were flown to Ghana to represent their respective countries on Demo Day.