Managing Meltwater: Forging Silicon Valley-Africa Ties

Managing Meltwater: Forging Silicon Valley-Africa Ties

As global investors warm up to Africa’s prospects as an investment destination, a Silicon Valley investment fund manager has been picked for a top management job at African tech incubator Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, according to a report in CelebratingProgressAfrica.

Neal Hansch, former general partner of Rustic Canyon Partners, was appointed incubator managing director of the Ghana-based MEST. Based in San Francisco, Hansch brings 15 years of experience to MEST in venture capital, technology operations and financial advisory sectors.

Hansch moved to Silicon Valley during the late ’90s, helping take many of Silicon Valley’s Internet companies public. He later switched over to doing late-stage investments, then worked in corporate development at Macromedia where he was responsible for global mergers and acquisitions and strategic equity investments. Macromedia was later bought by Adobe for $3.4 billion. Hansch joined Rustic Canyon Partners, an early-stage focused investment fund with $500 million under management.

Hansch’s work with Silicon Valley companies is not over. He anticipates helping forge business and corporate development deals for MEST companies looking to partner with Silicon Valley-based companies.

“MEST entrepreneurs are incredibly mature and wise beyond their years,” Hansch said. “Most are first-time entrepreneurs and when you take their energy and raw intelligence and give them nuts and bolts training, it’s amazing to see what they’ve done given their limited past professional experience.”

What is needed ultimately in Africa is great outcomes, Hansch said. “What ultimately brings attention, dollars and resources is success stories. The ideal scenario is one where they build their business bicoastally, raise venture dollars and get a big outcome in Silicon Valley. We all want to be able to point to a $100 million or $1 billion outcome,” he said.

According to Hansch, MEST will always be about Africa but will also be about companies going global – helping them as they mature and make their way into other markets.

MEST is a nonprofit training and mentoring program established  in Accra in 2007 that enables Africans to become software entrepreneurs. The goal is to teach MEST students the skills required to launch breakthrough global companies, enabling them to create jobs and wealth locally to stimulate the African economy.

MEST has invested over $1.5 million in 13 start ups since 2008.