MEST launches two new incubator spaces in Lagos and Cape Town
MEST – a pan-African entrepreneurial training program, seed fund, and incubator – announced on 21 November the launch of its two new incubator spaces.
The two spaces are located in Lagos, Nigeria, and Cape Town, South Africa as part of the program’s expansion plans across Africa.
The spaces will be the latest additions to the headquarters that are based in Accra, Ghana, and aim to help the continent’s tech community, including startups, investors, and corporate executives.
“With its 9-year track record in Ghana, we are glad to finally see MEST expand their footprint into Nigeria,” said Lagos State Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr. Tunde Durosinmi-Etti.
“This new incubator in Nigeria's economic centre, Lagos, is a strategic move towards partnering with the state government in changing the future economy of the state through its support for new businesses, empowering millennials and providing more jobs.”
MEST was built on core pillars, including a one-year training program in Ghana for entrepreneurs, potentially followed by seed funding and incubation.
The latest addition to the pillars is co-working, which invites local entrepreneurs to apply to join the MEST incubator space.
“As a South Africa-based VC, we’re thrilled about MEST’s South African expansion,” said Andrea Böhmert, Partner & Co-Founder of Knife Capital.
“MEST has a unique offering that combines capacity-building with access to funding and a global network, in an effort to create globally successful entrepreneurs. Their presence will certainly add to the dynamic startup community in Cape Town and further fuel growth on the continent.”
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.