After Bono’s Visit, Ghana’s MEST Moves Up A Gear With New VC Head

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It’s been fascinating to track what has become a groundbreaking nonprofit project to teach tech startup entrepreneurship from the ground up in Ghana, Africa. We first covered the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) last year in a special report filed from the capital, Accra. Then last month, world famous U2 lead singer Bono turned up to back to the project. TechCrunch likes to lead where Bono follows…

But today MEST is moving up a gear with the appointment of Neal Hansch as managing director of the MEST Incubator. With 15 years experience in tech, he was most recently a General Partner with Rustic Canyon Partners (RCP), an early-stage-focused investment fund with $500 million under management. Prior to RCP, Neal was a corporate development executive at Macromedia (acquired by Adobe), a venture capitalist with Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV), and an investment banker at, Robertson Stephens & Co.

He says he plans to help “accelerate and extend its reach across Africa and onto the global stage.”

Part of that will be about building a new fund to surround MEST’s startups, which has seen genuine success stories emerge in the shape of Retail Tower, Dropifi and Saya, which made the finals of the San Francisco Disrupt Battlefield, barely months after launching in Ghana.

Begun in 2008 by Metwater founder Jorn Lyseggen, MEST has trained more than 125 technology entrepreneurs, and its associated incubator program has invested in 15 startups in Ghana. MEST companies have gone on to raise external capital from Silicon Valley and European institutional investors and appeared at TechCrunch Disrupt and DEMO, among others.

Not too shabby for a country of 24 million in an emerging market like Africa.