JICA NINJA Accelerator
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Next Innovation with Japan (NINJA) is a startup support initiative by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) designed to support entrepreneurs and startups in developing countries who are creating innovative business models and technologies to solve social issues.
Panelists from January 12th, 2022 Online Pitch Day
(In alphabetical order)
Director – Rakuten Europe
Ryoichi Fukaya leads Rakuten Europe’s EMEA regional organizational strategy and operations. Rakuten is one of the largest e-commerce companies in Japan and the world, operating in 29 countries. It also offers financial and mobile services.
Director – Fukuoka Global Startup Center
Hideo Makinose heads Fukuoka Global Startup Center, and has been key in positioning Fukuoka prefecture as an ideal hub for Japanese startups targeting overseas markets, as well as foreign startup capital eyeing Japanese entrepreneurs.
General Partner – Incubate Fund
General Partner at Incubate Fund – a leading seed stage investor founded in Japan in 2010 with over $840 million AUM. Paul McInerney joined the Fund in March 2021 after 18 years at McKinsey & Company where he was a Senior Partner leading the Consumer Sector in Asia.
Senior Director – JICA
Shingo Morihata is JICA’s Senior Director for the Economic Development Department and Division 2 of its Private Sector Development Group, and heads Project NINJA and KAIZEN projects in Africa and South and Central America.
Director – Mobility 54
Hidenori Takada is Director of Mobility 54 – an corporate venture capital of Toyota Tsusho Group, in charge of finding investment opportunities throughout Africa and creating synergies with investment partners under the corporate slogan of “With Africa, For Africa”.
The Five Finalist Startups for Investment
Watch a brief intro
Patasente is an e-trade platform that enables small businesses and farmers to sell their produce to large buyers through supply chain management and factoring. The small business or farmer gets paid immediately upon delivery, with Patasente managing the payment term requirements of the corporations. This lifts a big burden of the supply chain from the corporations while providing easier terms and more stable income for the small businesses and farmers.
Being in the Ninja Accelerator has come at a good time in our growth trajectory. It is an opportunity to learn more, build new capabilities, further refine our product, and lay the foundation for both local and regional scale.”
Akello Banker is a fintech platform that connects over 120,000 Ugandan farmers with hundreds of input providers, buyers, and off-takers, helping Uganda’s agricultural supply chain trade faster and better. Its platform bundles all small-holder farmers’ needs into one, including hiring, stock management, equipment sharing, and even credit. The app can be used both with or without access data and internet. Akello Banker’s revenue comes from license and data sharing, credit commissions, and transactions.
The NINJA accelerator win will go a long way in building our operational, technological and financial capacity to scale rapidly in Uganda and to expand to other markets.
Founder | AkelloBanker
ChapChap is a fintech platform that enables MSMEs to access financial services at competitive prices, without unnecessarily stringent requirements. With around 6 million MSMEs in the country and annual mobile money transactions of about US$20 billion, Chap Chap is looking at a high-potential market. Already, 20,000 MSMEs have been onboarded (89% youth, 47% women) and $100 million US dollars transacted to date, including $6 million US dollars extended as credit.
NINJA re-enforces and validates the work at ChapChap and the impact we are creating.
Team Lead | ChapChap
ENDIRO Direct is a B2B e-commerce platform for premium Arabica coffee, targeting global (Japan, China, South Korea, UAE, and US) bulk wholesale buyers and roasters. Launched by Uganda’s premium café brand, ENDIRO Limited (which operates 11 premium cafés in Uganda and Chicago, USA), ENDIRO Direct has stable access to hundreds of local Ugandan Farmers, and benefits from an already established end-to-end export supply chain that has been operational for years. ENDIRO is also planning to expand the platform to access coffee farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Burundi.
Endiro Direct is thrilled to be able to participate in the NINJA Accelerator 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.
CEO | Endiro Direct
Easy Matatu is a mobility tech platform that connects over 1 million Ugandan commuters to affordable, safe, reliable and clean public transportation, providing a solution to a huge problem – hazardous, unpredictable, and unhygienic public transport (80% of commuters in Kampala use public transport). The app provides scheduled peak and off-peak rides on fixed proprietary routes in Kampala, at stable pricing, while offering drivers and owners increased and guaranteed earnings through efficient utilisation of the vehicles.
Joining the NINJA accelerator means a lot to us because it is an opportunity for Easy Matatu to access business, technical, and investment support and visibility as we work to fix public transport in Africa.
CEO | Easy Matatu