Press Release: JICA Ninja Accelerator Africa kicks off with their first cohort: from Nairobi to Tokyo, and now Silicon Valley.

TOKYO, April 27th, 2021 – 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 – kicked off this week with a virtual event hosted in Nairobi, highlighting five high-potential Kenyan ventures, a tailored but intensive program, as well as a chance to take part in an international experience from Nairobi to Tokyo, and now Silicon Valley.


The 1st Cohort

Out of a pool of 178 pre-series A and above applicants, an intimate group of five ventures made it passed a thorough selection process in order to join the first cohort of the Japan-led NINJA Accelerator in Kenya. The five Kenya-based ventures are:

  1. Sokowatch: Founded by Daniel Yu (CEO), Sokowatch is an e-commerce and logistics platform focused on supplying fast-moving consumer goods to mom-and-pop stores, allowing merchants to order products at anytime via SMS or mobile app for free same-day delivery.
  2. Kwara: Co-founded by Cynthia Wandia (CEO) and David Hwan (COO), Kwara is on a mission to turn savings cooperatives in emerging markets into digital banks, making wealth creation frictionless for the 3 billion un- and underbanked.
  3. Cinch Markets: Founded by Alexander Fankuchen (CEO), Cinch works with smallholder farmers in Kenya to aggregate land into commercial parcels, bring investment and generate returns that build durable prosperity.
  4. Amitruck: Founded by former truck driver and investment banker turned CEO Mark Mwangi, Amitruck 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.
  5. Zana Africa: Founded by Megan Mukuria (CEO), ZanaAfrica 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”, says 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 corporates 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.”


Enhanced Global Exposure

The program’s global appeal, in addition to connecting startups to Japan, will be further enhanced with the support of 500 Startups.

Scheduled for early 2022, ventures from cohorts 1 and 2 will be considered for a chance to take part in a “Global Road Show” where DFP and Deloitte will take founders on a business trip to Tokyo. Following this, 500 Startups will host the startups in San Francisco for a 2-day “Silicon Valley Olympiad” where they can attend networking and social events to meet VCs, institutional investors, local experts, and potential business partners.


An intensive but tailored program

The NINJA Accelerator in Kenya will offer a blend of local, Japanese, and international mentoring, expertise, coaching, and investor relations, all customized to meet needs of each venture. Those needs will be carefully defined during the first week of the program (bootcamp), followed by intensive capacity building, in-business support, and networking events over the course of three months, leading to a pitch event (Demo Day) scheduled for July 29th, 2021.

“We really enjoy working with dynamic startups and helping them connect with strategic partners beyond Japan who can bring value to their business and help support their international expansion”, says Kohei Muto, CEO of Double Feather Partners. “Rather than a one-off engagement, we look forward to contributing to their long-term growth.”

For more information about the NINJA Accelerator in Kenya and its upcoming activities:





About 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.


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 venture capital firm that offers management consulting and financial strategy services to ventures in emerging markets to help support local economies as the foundation for 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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About 500 Startups

500 Startups is one of the most active global early-stage venture capital firms, with a mission to uplift people and economies around the world through entrepreneurship. Since its inception in 2010, 500 Startups has invested in over 2,500 companies across 77 countries. Its 140-plus team members are located in more than 17 countries to support 500 Startups’ global portfolio. Notable investments include Credit Karma, Canva, Talkdesk, Intercom, GitLab, Grab and Bukalapak.

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No content or services provided in this press release or as part of the Ninja Accelerator, Silicon Valley Olympiad and related programs is or should be construed as legal, tax, investment advice, investment advisory services or as an offer to sell or solicitation of interest to purchase any securities by 500 Startups. Please see Section 2 of 500 Startups’ Terms of Use for additional important information.


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:



First JICA press release: