5 Kenyan startups taking part in JICA’s NINJA Accelerator

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Five Kenyan startups have been selected to take part in the NINJA Accelerator, powered by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which offers access to a tailored programme and the chance to scale internationally.

Disrupt Africa reported in February JICA, which coordinates official development assistance for the Japanese government in developing countries, was expanding its NINJA Accelerator to Kenya in partnership with the Double Feather Partners (DFP), the Deloitte Tohmatsu consortium and GrowthAfrica after an initial launch in Ethiopia.

The programme has just kicked off with a virtual event hosted in Nairobi, highlighting the five high-potential Kenyan ventures that will take part in the tailored but intensive programme and take part in an international experience that incorporates Nairobi, Tokyo, and Silicon Valley. They were chosen from a pool of 178 applicants.

The selected startups are e-commerce and logistics platform Sokowatch, savings startup Kwara, agri-tech platform Cinch Markets, trucking marketplace Amitruck, and feminine hygiene product manufacturer Zana Africa.

“We were extremely impressed by the quality of the applicants for this first cohort”, said Keiji Katai, senior director of the Private Sector Development Group at JICA. “While we were only able to select five, it is exciting to see what young entrepreneurs in Kenya, and undoubtedly Africa, have to offer. We hope to demonstrate to Japanese corporates and investors that there is a serious case to be made when engaging with startups in Africa, which are the future drivers of African economies.” 

The NINJA Accelerator will offer a blend of local, Japanese, and international mentoring, expertise, coaching, and investor relations, all customised to meet the needs of each venture. Those needs will be carefully defined during a bootcamp in the first week of the programme, followed by intensive capacity building, in-business support, and networking events over the course of three months, leading to a demo day) scheduled for July 29.

Meanwhile, in early 2022, ventures from cohorts one and two will be considered for a chance to take part in a “Global Road Show” where DFP and Deloitte will take founders on a business trip to Tokyo. Following this, 500 Startups will host the startups in San Francisco for a two-day “Silicon Valley Olympiad” where they can attend networking and social events to meet VCs, institutional investors, local experts, and potential business partners.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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