Pictured far right: Nosa Omusi
UPDATE: MEST Africa has issued comments in reaction to this post. Key points highlighted in bullets below.
- Nosa's role is and has always been Community Manager for our Lagos incubator and not the Manager or the Managing Director of MEST.
- He did not replace Aaron Fu, who was our Managing Director. Our previous community manager in Accra, Sylvana, left MEST to attend graduate school.
- Aaron Fu was the Managing Director of the entire MEST organizatoin. His exit from MEST was not abrupt - it was a conscious decision he took and announced to the internal team in early June. Nosa was never replacing Aaron.
- Further, Ashwin is not the community manager at MEST. He was promoted to be the Managing Director, in place of Aaron. He was promoted based on his 5+ years of work building and growing the companies within our incubator portfolio. He now heads all of MEST, across all our markets, including the training program. This is significantly different than a community manager.
- The current refocus for MEST is not just about our Training Program, but our core - which is training, investing in and incubating tech entrepreneurs. The changes in our Lagos and Cape Town spaces are merely physical - we realized it's not necessary for us to own, manage and operate physical incubator spaces in order to help our companies grow. Rather, the resources spent doing so can be better leveraged by our core training program and incubator offering.
- The incubator is not intended to make us money. MEST is and always has been a non-profit. We receive funding from Meltwater and from partners.
- There is no record of EITs bumping heads with management.
Four days ago, community members of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) received an email from their Lagos community manager thanking every single one of them for being such a great family.
The 374-word-long mail was filled with wonderful memories of how a community of strangers -- bound by their common goal to change lives through technology entrepreneurship -- had impacted his life in a short time.
Of a truth, this was really no mail about pleasantries and compliments. Rather it was about the end of a stint at MEST. The manager in question happens to be Nosa Omusi.
Speaking to Nosa via a phone conversation, to find out what might have prompted his exit, he assured that all was well. But how true could this really be?
Prior to now, there have been rumours of unrest at the entrepreneurship school and incubator.
Techpoint had earlier gotten information that MEST was either on the brink of closing down its incubator in Nigeria or moving it to a shared space with another incubator; similar to the Cape Town model.
An entrepreneur in training (EIT) who pleaded anonymity explained that a lot of changes were indeed happening at MEST, all geared towards refocusing MEST solely on the entrepreneurship training programme.
But why these changes?
Another EIT told Techpoint that they (EITs) bumped heads with management a few times and that it may have forced MEST to these changes.
A supposed deviation from its core
MEST, an offspring of its global company (Meltwater Foundation), founded by Jørn Lyseggen, is arguably one of the best entrepreneurship schools on the continent.
Every year, since its African expansion, the institution has left a positive footprint on the African technology space.
From incubation to acceleration and to funding, it's easy to spot why MEST has remained relevant over the years.
However, it appears not all of these activities are core to the operation of MEST. Like the incubation programme for example.
"I think they tried it, but it has not made them money," says one of the EITs about the incubator.
According to him, the incubator wasn't only outside of MEST's core operations, it was also expensive to run.
Most of the companies MEST funds come out of the training programme in Accra, even though there are a considerable number of applications from outside Ghana.
This year alone MEST had 51 EITs from 13 countries across the continent, and is eyeing an improvement next year.
So rather than spend money on an incubator -- amongst other things believed to be unsustainable -- EITs seem to want those monies invested in their welfare whilst in the program.
Even though claims of the EITs can be easily debunked by the management (MEST), there are further indicators of truth in them.
Nosa had long been the community manager in Lagos up until the month of June where he was reassigned as the community manager in Accra. The reassignment follows Aaron Fu's exit from MEST.
In the absence of both Nosa (who barely lasted a month in his new role) and Aaron, Ashwin Ravichandran, the previous director of Portfolio Support, is now the community manager at MEST.
With all these changes, what better logical conclusion to come to?