Kenyan startup MESH has achieved a remarkable feat by amassing a membership of 150,000 since its launch in November 2021. MESH serves as an online community that connects young entrepreneurs and small business owners, offering them tailored training content, essential networks, and access to opportunities and services in the formal economy. This milestone comes as a result of the startup’s one-year partnership with Mastercard Strive Community and Caribou Digital.
The partnership with Mastercard Strive Community, a philanthropic program by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, along with early-stage grant funding and technical support from Caribou Digital, has contributed to the growth and development of MESH. Additionally, investments from Shujaaz Inc and funding from TRANSFORM have allowed MESH to pursue its mission of unlocking the potential of Kenya’s informal economy.
Research reveals that 95% of young Kenyans engage in the informal sector, adding an impressive USD 520 million to the country’s economy every month. However, young entrepreneurs in this sector face various challenges such as limited access to loans, services, and formal work opportunities. They often rely on personal networks and lack the necessary tools and training to establish and expand their businesses.
Simultaneously, large corporations, including multinational FMCG companies, telecom providers, and financial institutions, struggle to tap into this substantial consumer market and harness the potential offered by these entrepreneurs.
With the support of early-stage backers like Mastercard Strive Community, MESH aims to transform the employment landscape and redefine the future of work in economies like Kenya. By challenging conventional notions of employment and offering innovative learning models, MESH enables thousands of small business owners to acquire the practical skills needed for success.
Anuj Tanna, Co-Founder and CEO of MESH, expressed gratitude for the support from Strive Community, emphasizing its instrumental role in refining, testing, and scaling their innovative learning models. These models facilitate peer-led, bite-sized, digital-first training, allowing young entrepreneurs to learn in their preferred language and on their own terms.