The Next Innovation with Japan Accelerator program has selected five Ugandan startups that are ready to take their businesses to the next level.
Startups such as M-scan, Laboremus Uganda, ChapChap Africa, Endiro Direct, AkelloBanker, Patasente, and Easy Matatu showcased their business solutions and competed against twelve other startups at The Innovation Village recently to win the NINJA Accelerator Uganda program.
The startups were required to demonstrate aspects of relevance, impact, feasibility, readiness, traction, and creativity, according to Uchiyama Takayuki, Chief Representative at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Uganda Office.
“We looked at the business profitability, sustainable business models, future growth strategy and return on investment. For the innovation aspect, we assessed the business incorporation of technology to provide solutions and address societal challenges” Uchiyama said, adding that, “Now that the assessment process is done, the winner will undergo a three-month custom-made program based on their individual business need and capacity so as to achieve their desired level of growth. They will have a chance to access mentorship sessions, executive networking opportunities with partners and investors within the Japan ecosystem and support to test and refine their business idea.”
Each of the five startups will get up to $18,000 in proof-of-concept funding as part of the accelerator program. They will also have the opportunity to raise $0.5-1 million in investment, according to Uchiyama.
The NINJA Accelerator Uganda program comes at a time when many startups are struggling to keep their businesses afloat given the insufficient financial resources, lack of innovation and unawareness of business principles for some.
The Innovation Village believes that Uganda may produce the continent’s next game changers with programs like these that break down obstacles and pave the way for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. The program is now intended to revitalize some of Uganda’s most promising startups and propel social change.
“Endiro Direct is thrilled to be able to participate in the NINJA Accelerator Uganda program and work with the team to develop a solution that solves a real and often difficult challenge of access to markets for many coffee producers in Uganda and Africa,” said Roger Agamba, founder of the Business to Business e-commerce channel Endiro Direct.
The NINJA Accelerator Uganda program, according to Jean Anthony Onyait, Chief Executive Officer of agriculture finance and tech startup Akellobanker, is an opportunity to think big and get creative with its services.
He says, “We will go a long way in building our operational, technological and financial capacity to scale rapidly in Uganda and to expand to other markets in East Africa”.
The NINJA accelerator program has come at a good time in Patasente’s growth trajectory, according to George Bakka, the Chief Executive Officer of Patasente, a Fintech startup. It’s an opportunity for the startup to learn more, develop new skills, improve its product, and lay the foundation for local and regional expansion.
According to Lema Andrew, Co-Founder of Easy Matatu, joining the program for the first time gives the company access to business, technical, and funding support, as well as awareness for its product as it works to solve Africa’s public transportation challenges.
The Innovation Village, Hive Collab, and Outbox will each be assigned a startup to train and mentor as implementing partners. One of the ecosystem’s largest efforts to support startups and entrepreneurs in Uganda will be the collaboration between these three hubs and the JICA task force.