Japan’s NINJA Accelerator in Kenya picks 5 startups for its first cohort

KENYA – Five Kenyan startups have been picked by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and other partners to receive customised international mentoring, expertise, coaching, and investor relations in readiness for a Demo Day.

The “NINJA Accelerator in Kenya”, powered by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in partnership with Double Feather Partners (DFP), Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support (DTVS), Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory (DTFA) and GrowthAfrica, has selected the five high-potential Kenyan ventures for its first cohort that takes place over the course of three months with a Demo Day scheduled for July 29th, 2021. 

The 5 startups will have a chance to take part in an international experience from Nairobi to Tokyo, and now Silicon Valley.

The five Kenya-based ventures are Sokowatch, Kwara, Cinch Markets, Amitruck and Zana Africa.

Sokowatch was founded by Daniel Yu (CEO) and is an e-commerce and logistics platform focused on supplying fast-moving consumer goods to mom-and-pop stores. It allows merchants to order products at any time via SMS or mobile app for free same-day delivery.

Kwara was co-founded by Cynthia Wandia (CEO) and David Hwan (COO) and is on a mission to turn savings cooperatives in emerging markets into digital banks, making wealth creation frictionless for the 3 billion un- and under banked population across the World.

Cinch Markets, which was founded by Alexander Fankuchen (CEO), works with smallholder farmers in Kenya to aggregate land into commercial parcels, bring investment and generate returns that build durable prosperity. 

Amitruck, which was founded by former truck driver and investment banker turned CEO Mark Mwangi, 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), helps young women live healthier lives thanks to feminine hygiene products made through green manufacturing processes which also contribute to the circular economy. 

“We were extremely impressed by the quality of the applicants for this first cohort,” said Keiji Katai, Senior Director – 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 corporatism 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,” he added.

Each selected startup will be offered a symbolic US$15,000 Welcome Award from Double Feather Partners, as well as a chance to participate in a business event in Tokyo courtesy of JICA.

Each of the selected startups will be offered a symbolic US$15,000 Welcome Award from Double Feather Partners, as well as a chance to participate in a business event in Tokyo, courtesy of JICA.

JICA is planning a series of annual NINJA Accelerators across Africa over the next three years, to further broaden it’s engagement with African startups and build upon its NINJA Business Plan Competition in Response to Covid-19, which took place on February 26, 2021.

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