The Japan International Cooperation (JICA) with Uganda start-up hubs has launched the Next Innovation with Japan (NINJA) Accelerator Uganda to take high growth startups to the next level of business growth to attract investment worth US$0.5m.
The program will be implemented by The Innovation Village, Hive Collab and Outbox
Speaking at the launch in Kampala, UCHIYAMA Takayuki, the Chief Representative at JICA Uganda Office said, they anticipate having 200 applications from eligible start-ups who will be subjected to a critical three levels assessment by the end of August..
Takayuki says the top five startups will qualify for the NINJA Accelerator Uganda program that will start on September 13. These will go through the training and mentorship provided by Hive Collab, The Innovation Village and Outbox.
“These three hubs will develop the individual curriculum for startups based on their sector or business needs, growth level and business capacity. They will provide mentorship and coaching sessions, develop models and market traction strategies for their business to scale” said Takayuki. Adding, we shall provide up to US$18,000 proof of concept funding to these startups
Takayuki says the Uganda startup ecosystem has potential for growth because of the aggressive and determined nature of entrepreneurs.
He says With the right investment and partnership opportunities they will be able to grow and scale their businesses.
The Next Innovation with Japan (NINJA) Accelerator Uganda which is first of its kind is designed to help businesses gain market traction, build a strong network and partnership with Japan investment and consulting firms.
For start-ups to participate in the program, it must be a registered company and operational for at least one year.
These should be at a high growth-stage of development earning approximately $50,000 in revenue and ready for the next level growth.
“It should be economically viable and be able to demonstrate a strong promise of building a sustainable and impactful business,” he said.
The start ups have up to August 22, to register using the link http://ninjajica.co.ug .
Barbara Mutabazi, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Hive Collab said, Uganda has a very nascent ICT and startup ecosystem which presents a lot of opportunities for the recovery of not just the economy but for the people at the grassroots.
Japheth Kawanguzi, Team Lead at The Innovation Village, said with many startup still struggling to recover from the impact of the two lockdowns, the ecosystem has been tasked to deploy any means necessary to survive and move to recovery where time and resources have been lost.
“How well we adapt will determine how well we recover. We have an opportunity to reconfigure ourselves to an ongoing new reality to extend the reach of our products and services to the people who need them most,” he said.
Kawanguzi added, ‘Let us continue to collaborate, to think big, to innovate and accelerate the use of technology not only to invigorate our businesses but to foster the development of ecosystem to the growth of the economy.