Press Release: JICA Doubles Down on African Start-ups: From Business Competition to Expanding Japanese-led Accelerator Program to Kenya

TOKYO, February 2, 2021 –

As part of its Next Innovation with Japan project (Project NINJA), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is expanding its start-up accelerator program (NINJA Accelerator) to Kenya, scheduled to take place in Nairobi on April 7th, 2021, in partnership with the Double Feather Partners (DFP) / Deloitte Tohmatsu consortium, and GrowthAfrica.

The “NINJA Accelerator in Kenya” is the first of a series of NINJA Accelerators that JICA plans to launch in Africa over the next three years, further broadening JICA’s engagement with African start-ups, building upon its “NINJA Business Plan Competition in Response to COVID-19”, whose Grand Finale will be streamed live from Tokyo on February 26th, 2021.

Japanese-led accelerator expanding to Kenya
After Ethiopia in 2020, JICA expands its start-up accelerator program to Kenya. The NINJA Accelerator in Kenya will take place in partnership with Japanese consulting firms Double Feather Partners (DFP), Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support (DTVS), Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory LLC (DTFA), and Kenya-based business accelerator GrowthAfrica.

A first cohort of five Kenyan start-ups will be carefully selected to take part in a three-month, tailored, intensive program, offering a unique blend of Japanese and African expertise, local knowledge, and access to a pool of Japanese, African and global mentors and investors. Moreover, each selected startup will be offered a symbolic US$ 15,000 Welcome Award from Double Feather Partners, as well as a chance to participate a business event in Tokyo courtesy of JICA among other surprises.

Applications to the NINJA Accelerator in Kenya are now open until February 22, 2021. More information can be found on the program’s website at

The Grand Finale of the NINJA Business Plan Competition in Response to COVID-19
In addition to its upcoming NINJA Accelerators in Africa, JICA will be organizing the Grand Finale of its “NINJA Business Plan Competition in Response to COVID-19” on February 26, 2021 in partnership with Japan’s leading business publication Nikkei and Japanese consulting firm Double Feather Partners.

Launched in July 2020, 10 Finalists were selected out of over 2,700 African start-ups from 19 countries for a chance to sign a work contract with JICA, win an equity/debt-free sum of up to US$ 30,000, and take part in a pitch event, the Grand Finale, hosted in Tokyo for further investments and business partnership opportunities sponsored by JICA.

The 10 Finalists (in Alphabetic order) are: Agrinfo (Tanzania), And Africa LLC (South Africa), Appy People (Angola), Emergency Response Africa (Nigeria), Lifestores Healthcare (Nigeria), MajestEYE (Tunisia), Mobile Scan Solutions (Uganda), Moja Ride (Côte d’Ivoire), TranSoniCa (Ghana), and Upepo Technology (Kenya).

The Grand Finale will be streamed online, for free, with simultaneous interpretation in English and French, on February 26, 2021. Viewers can register and gain additional information on the event’s web page at


About the Project NINJA
Project NINJA is a JICA initiative to support entrepreneurs and to create business innovation in emerging countries. JICA intends to collaborate with various stakeholders to develop entrepreneurship, identify issues experienced by entrepreneurs, make policy recommendations, strengthen corporate management capacity, promote collaboration among enterprises across industries, match up with Japanese companies, and promote investment.

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About JICA
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) coordinates official development assistance for the Japanese government in developing countries and aims to promote international cooperation by supporting the socio-economic development, recovery, or economic stability of emerging economies.
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About Double Feather Partners
Double Feather Partners (DFP) is a Japanese consulting firm which offers investment finance and management consulting services to ventures in emerging markets to help support local business, the economic foundations of a better society.
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Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support
Innovation is the key to driving business success and revitalizing the Japanese and the world economies in the 21st century. Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support (DTVS)’s mission is to “create the future alongside innovators”, by collaborating with startups, large corporations and government agencies. Main activities include: startup support, consulting for large corporations, open innovation and government agency support.
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Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory LLC
Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory LLC (DTFA) delivers highly specialized financial advisory solutions to Deloitte’s clients facing critical business events and financial transactions where significant value is at stake. FA professionals have the global reach, deep industrial sector knowledge, extensive service capabilities, and experience to help Deloitte’s clients capitalize on opportunities and navigate times of economic uncertainty and disruptive events. .
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About GrowthAfrica
GrowthAfrica is a leading African accelerator and advisory firm with 18+ years of experience in delivering growth activities programmes for impactful African ventures. GrowthAfrica provides business growth programs for high-potential entrepreneurs as well as design and delivers activities for partners and clients in support of entrepreneurs. GrowthAfrica currently has offices in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, and Ghana.
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GrowthAfrica take with CEO-Johnni Kjelsgaard

“The NINJA Accelerator is an exciting addition to the entrepreneurial landscape of Kenya and offers an innovative approach of value to an under-served set of early-stage business who are getting ready for their first serious round of venture capital funding.”

“The unique Japanese flavour of this programme combined with solid local anchoring is sure to elevate the entrepreneurs who will participate and give them a chance to access international partners and investors typically out of reach.”


More information about the NINJA Business Plan Competition in Response to COVID-19 can be found here:

For more information on NINJA Accelerator in Kenya and more news items contact us directly through:
Liz Kariuki
Communications Lead
Headquarter, Nairobi
Phone: +254 [0] 724 151 924
Mobile: +254 [0] 721 969 487
WhatsApp: +254 [0] 721 969 487

NINJA Accelerator Kenya activities can be followed on: Website: Twitter: