Forget Products - Can You Develop People?

This weekend the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (known as MEST) held a capstone event with a variety of impact investors, entrepreneurs, and passionate teachers.

This two year program - run out of Accra, Ghana - is nothing short of jaw-dropping. The students are trained in a complementary triad: business, technology, and communication. MEST features a strong coding component, but that is just the beginning. The students are constantly outside the classroom talking to potential customers, researching competitors, and practicing their pitches.

MEST is the brainchild of Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater Group who infused the culture with a strong emphasis on personal growth, positivity, and community. His limitless energy and natural enthusiasm laid the foundation for what is now the premier software development training program in the world.

There are many places with similar values written on a wall, but MEST practices them to an impressive degree. The level of training is immersive and comprehensive, reminiscent of the military in its effectiveness and orientation toward mission accomplishment.

The program is a runaway success, and just getting started. MEST transforms the mindset of young African entrepreneurs, steadily building a new type of community that is self-reliant, driven, and hungry to make their mark.

Folks there have a different mindset: MEST students and alumni refuse to accept the reality of Africa as it stands today. Each problem is an opportunity to better the world while making money.

My passion is not hardware or software development, it's people development.

Samuel Amoah, MEST class of 2016

Most importantly, they have a laser focus supporting one another. Each participant receives standing ovations, whoops, and hollers when they present their work. The volume never decreases, even after hours of presentations.

It's an amazing place to visit, and makes you wonder why there aren't more programs like this around the world, particularly in the United States where entrepreneurship is all the rage. Our emphasis seems to be on the products, not the people.

Unfortunately, most of us aren't born as entrepreneurs. We lack the mindset, skills, confidence, support network, et cetera. It takes years, hard work, and lots of luck to get to a level where it's possible to build a new company. Some muddle through, butprograms such as MEST give many more the same opportunities to positively impact the world by harnessing passion in pursuit of grand dreams.

That's people development, and it will trump every over type of innovation in the long run.

Good luck, MEST mafia!