My thoughts on MEST and explaining “the dis tin”

March 9, 2010

Note: Cross posting from Meltwater Blog (09.03.2010)

“The dis tin,” or “the this thing”, is a phrase frequently used in Ghana to describe something that either is difficult to describe, does not have a name, or a name that the speaker has just momentary forgotten.

(Disclaimer: Please forgive me, all Ghanaians if I am translating this somewhat incorrectly.)

In 2008, I worked at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) as a Teaching Fellow – more on that later. In January of 2010 I was fortunate enough to go back to Ghana and attend the graduation of the first class of trainees.

So what is “the dis tin” that is MEST? What does it mean to me, to Meltwater Group, to our employees, and most importantly, to the trainees in the program? Since joining MEST as a Teaching Fellow in 2008, many people have asked me these questions.

MEST Graduates 2009

MEST is Meltwater’s non-profit program launched in Accra, Ghana two years ago. MEST follows the Meltwater Group’s deeply rooted belief that “talent is talent everywhere” and that when “talented people receive the right amount of support, guidance and encouragement, they can accomplish extraordinary things” as our CEO Jorn Lyseggen once put it.

MEST’s mission is to train young Ghanaians in order to enable them to start their own globally successful software companies.

My work at MEST

A Teaching Fellow at MEST is a hybrid between a teaching assistant at university, a coach, a technology expert and a mentor … so pretty much a jack-of-all-trades ☺

In my time at MEST my main focus was to strengthen the trainees’ understanding of current technologies and how they can be successfully leveraged for the trainees’ respective business ideas. The depth in which the different technologies were addressed was really diverse since the trainees all came from varied academic backgrounds (but all hold a bachelor’s degree). Therefore the level of support a trainee needed often was decided on a case by case basis.

Generally speaking, my experience as a Teaching Fellow was a very enjoyable one for me. Besides having the chance to work in a new cultural context and being able to broaden my horizons both professionally as well as personally, I developed a lot of new friendships with other MEST staff and of course with the trainees themselves.

Samuel and Sebastian

My impressions when going back to MEST

Going back this January to see how MEST and the trainees had developed in the last year and also to celebrate the graduation of the first class of trainees was a great experience. I met a lot of my old friends, as former Teaching Fellows like myself flew in from all over the world to be part of this truly unique and historic occasion.

It was exciting to see how the trainees have developed. The group of eleven successful graduates have built up incredible entrepreneurial spirits and technological skills over the course of the last two years during their training at MEST. I am sure that successful businesses will be started by them one day. They may not necessarily all be in the global marketplace, but will achieve their own individual definition of “being successful”.

One of the teams was accepted into the MEST Incubator, which is phase two of the MEST program that helps MEST graduates validate their ideas and get their new businesses off the ground. Supplied with initial funding, they are already developing the first prototype and hope to go live with it in the middle of this year. Follow Streemio closely in order not to miss what they are up to.

I am looking forward to seeing all the great talent and ideas that will come out of MEST in the future. To the trainees, I have to say: You guys rock, go for it!

So I hope I was able to tell you a little more about “the dis tin” called MEST.

In conclusion, I am proud to have been part of MEST. “Hats off!” to the Meltwater Foundation and especially to Jorn for staying true to the unique philanthropic character of MEST and for bringing to life such an extraordinary example of corporate responsibility.