Five start-ups, Sokowatch, Kwara, Cinch Markets, Amitruck, and ZanaAfrica showcased their disruptive businesses during the 1st Demo Day of the NINJA Accelerator in Kenya, concluding the 1st cohort of the Japanese-led acceleration program powered by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and implemented by Double Feather Partners, Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support, Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory,and GrowthAfrica.Viewers from around the world logged in to watch 5 start-ups pitch their businesses during the first Demo Day of the NINJA Accelerator in Kenya which was held fully online due the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees were also able to network and visit each start-up’s virtual booth which contained institutional profiles, videos, brochures, contacts, and other investor-friendly information.
The program also revealed new details about its next cohort, organizers also announced that its 2nd cohort will be open for applications from August 8th to September 5, with an online information session on August 23rd.The NINJA Accelerator in Kenya Demo Day took place after a 12-week intensive acceleration program which was redesigned into a mostly virtual experience to minimize health risks and prioritize participants’ safety during the pandemic.
“This accelerator came at the perfect time for us, equipping us with practical tools that accelerated our ability to pivot for growth, giving us confidence to connect with the right investors to scale, and getting real-life feedback from VCs and forging new relationships. We feel that the impact will be actualized over the coming years”, says Megan Mukuria, CEO of ZanaAfrica, a venture that addresses the unmet need of menstruation management (a $26Bnindustry) with its feminine hygiene product called Nia, a fast-moving educational good that builds lifetime relationships with its users while helping them live healthier lives.
Other start-ups included Sokowatch, an e-commerce and logistics platforfm allowing merchants to restock products with free same-day delivery and financing; Kwara, a digital banking platform that turns savings cooperatives into digital banks; Cinch Markets, aggregating smallholder farm land into ”mosaic farms” for commercial agriculture and greater revenue streams for farmers, and Amitruck, a digital marketplace that connects clients to truck drivers on a secure, transparent, and convenient platform.
“With our first cohort ending, JICA looks forward to following and supporting the growth journey of each participating start-up whenever it can. These founders are helping improve the socioeconomic situation of Kenya. Supporting this kind of impactful entrepreneurship is exactly what JICA’s NINJA Project is all about”, says Keiji KATAI, Senior Director of Private Sector Development at JICA.
“Running JICA’s first acceleration program in Kenya during a pandemic required adjustments,but we are pleased with the outcomes so far and value immensely the feedback received from our 1st cohort to keep improving the quality of our program for future cohorts. We are excited about our first Alumni and look forward to staying connected even after the program”, says Kohei MUTO, CEO of Double Feather Partners.