Startups & Ideas

Five Kenyan Startups selected to join Ninja Accelerator Program

Kwara, Amitrucks, Cinch Markets, Sokowatch and Zana Africa are the five startups from Kenya that will be part of the Japan-led Ninja Accelerator Program. The program is 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.

The program consists of 3 months of tailor-made local, Japanese, and international mentoring, expertise, and investor relations. After that period, there will be a pitch event on July 29th, 2021. Thereafter, in early 2022 DFP and Deloitte will take startups to Tokyo, followed by a visit to Silicon Valley organised by 500 Startups that will host them for 2 days where they can meet VCs, institutional investors, local experts, and potential business partners.

Here’s a summary of the 5 selected startups thanks to Startups Magazine:

  1. Sokowatch: Founded by Daniel Yu (CEO). It 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 any time via SMS or mobile app for free same-day delivery.
  2. Kwara: Co-founded by Cynthia Wandia (CEO) and David Hwan (COO) 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 a 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 to 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.

Cynthia Wandia, Kwara’s CEO, says: “We look forward to building strong strategic partnerships with Japan-based corporations and investors. This will be an important Launchpad for our ASEAN and Africa expansion. We are optimistic about exchanging ideas, technical expertise and culture so we can build a global, profitable business together.”

“We were extremely impressed by the quality of the applicants for this first cohort”, said 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.”

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