The JICA NINJA Accelerator in Kenya, powered by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in collaboration with Double Feather Partners (DFP), Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support (DTVS), Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory (DTFA), and GrowthAfrica, kicked off with a virtual event in Nairobi, highlighting five high-potential Kenyan ventures, with the chance to participate in an international competition.
Five ventures were selected from 178 pre-series A applications to join the first cohort of the Japan-led NINJA Accelerator in Kenya. The following are the five Kenyan ventures:
- Sokowatch: Founded by Daniel Yu (CEO), Sokowatch is an e-commerce and logistics platform focused on supplying fast-moving consumer goods to mom-and-pop stores, allowing merchants to order products at anytime via SMS or mobile app for free same-day delivery.
- Kwara: Co-founded by Cynthia Wandia (CEO) and David Hwan (COO), Kwara is on a mission to turn savings cooperatives in emerging markets into digital banks, making wealth creation frictionless for the 3 billion un- and underbanked.
- Cinch Markets: Founded by Alexander Fankuchen (CEO), Cinch works with smallholder farmers in Kenya to aggregate land into commercial parcels, bring investment and generate returns that build durable prosperity.
- Amitruck: Founded by former truck driver and investment banker turned CEO Mark Mwangi, Amitruck is a digital marketplace that connects clients to transporters in a secure, competitive, and convenient manner, cutting out expensive middlemen, allowing drivers bid for deliveries, thus ensuring competitive pricing in all transparency.
- Zana Africa: Founded by Megan Mukuria (CEO), ZanaAfrica helps young women live healthier lives thanks to feminine hygiene products made through green manufacturing processes which also contribute to the circular economy.
“The standard of the applicants for this first cohort wowed us,” says Keiji Katai, JICA’s Senior Director of the Private Sector Development Group. “While we were only able to choose five, it’s exciting to see what Kenyan and African young entrepreneurs have to bring. We want to show Japanese corporations and investors that there is a compelling argument to be made for working with African startups, which are the potential drivers of the continent’s economies.”
The program’s global appeal will be bolstered by the sponsorship of 500 Startups, in addition to connecting startups to Japan.
Ventures from cohorts 1 and 2 will be considered for a chance to participate in a “Global Road Show,” where DFP and Deloitte will take founders on a business trip to Tokyo, scheduled for early 2022. Following that, 500 Startups will host the startups in San Francisco for a two-day “Silicon Valley Olympiad,” during which they will be able to network and socialize with VCs, institutional investors, local experts, and potential business partners.
The NINJA Accelerator in Kenya will include a unique mix of local, Japanese, and foreign mentoring, expertise, coaching, and investor relations, all tailored to each venture’s specific needs.
During the first week of the program (bootcamp), those needs will be carefully identified, followed by intense capacity building, in-business support, and networking activities over the course of three months, culminating in a pitch event (Demo Day) on July 29th, 2021.
“We love working with dynamic startups and helping them interact with strategic partners outside of Japan who can add value to their company and support their international expansion,” says Double Feather Partners CEO Kohei Muto. “Rather than a one-time project, we want to contribute to their long-term success.”
Visit the website for more information on the NINJA Accelerator in Kenya.