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Nurturing Kenya’s Cleantech Innovation with Japan: JICA’s Project NINJA reveals 5 startups

Adding to the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Kenya comes a milestone for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Kenya, as its entrepreneurship support initiative, Project NINJA (Next INnovation with JApan), launches the 3rd cohort of its NINJA Accelerator in Kenya. Aiming to support Kenya’s cleantech space, 5 Kenyan ventures have been selected for an opportunity to receive tailored support to solidify their businesses and access to international mentoring, networking, and fundraising opportunities, including a roadshow to Japan.  

The following 5 post-revenue cleantech startups from Kenya were selected based on criteria such as team, business model, and potential impact. This cohort is set to embark on a 12-week transformative journey, implemented by Double Feather Partners, Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support, Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory, and GrowthAfrica. 

  1. Baridi is a Pay-as-you-Store or Lease-to-Own solar-enhanced cold-storage solution provider focused on down-stream consumption markets in the Meat and Fishery value chain requiring sub-zero technology.
  2. Mazi Mobility is a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) ecosystem provider that locally assembles and deploys electric motorcycles and 24/7 affordable, fast battery-swapping stations.
  3. MegaGas collects plastic waste and converts it into clean cooking gas thanks to its patented thermal cracking process, providing low-income customers with safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly energy alternatives to LPG Gas or charcoal.
  4. Ycenter Shambah Solutions provides last-mile soil testing and analysis to smallholder farmers via Internet of Things (IoT) technology, addressing deteriorating soil health, reduced crop productivity and quality caused by the misuse of agricultural inputs.
  5. Timao Group recycles post-consumer plastic waste and converts it into modular building materials for construction companies and developers as part of the circular economy, and addresses both the reduction of plastic waste and the supply shortage of building materials in rapidly urbanizing areas.

“We are thrilled to launch this 3rd cohort as another testament to our commitment to fostering innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship in Kenya, against the backdrop of the 60th Anniversary of Kenya-Japan diplomatic relations, and in support of the vision set forth by the Kenya National Innovation Agency,” said Hajime Iwama, Chief Representative from JICA Kenya. 

“We are particularly excited about this cohort as it is the first post-COVID one that we lead on behalf of JICA. We look forward to introducing them to our network of investors and corporations bullish on the cleantech space,” said Kohei Muto, CEO of Double Feather Partners, the Japan-based Venture Capital and Startup Ecosystem Engagement firm leading the consortium to which JICA awarded this project. Reciprocally, the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) voiced its appreciation for Japan’s involvement in providing opportunities for innovators in Kenya. “As we are set to implement the government’s 10-year Innovation Plan, collaborations such as the one with JICA will help us reach the ambitious goals we have set for our country”, said Dr. Tonny Omwansa, Chief Executive Officer of the KeNIA.  

Moreover, GrowthAfrica, one of the implementing partners, expressed their enthusiasm for supporting thriving entrepreneurs on their growth journeys. “Through our involvement with Project NINJA, we have witnessed the importance of mentorship and investment support for local businesses,” said Patricia Jumi, Managing Director at GrowthAfrica. “Our goal is to increase the success rate of businesses in Africa, and programs like Project NINJA are one step closer to achieving this.”

The NINJA Accelerator in Kenya equips founders with the necessary tools to increase their readiness for partnerships and investments, enabling them to enhance their businesses and scale effectively within the Kenyan market. Additionally, the program offers domestic and international exposure, including joining JICA’s delegation to the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit 2023 in Cape Town, as well as a roadshow to Japan, opening doors to Japanese venture capitalists, institutional and corporate investors, and strategic partners.

Among the impressive alumni of the NINJA Accelerator in Kenya are successful ventures such as Wasoko, Kwara, Amitruck, Zana Africa, Shamba Pride, Kijenzi, and My Movies.Africa. These ventures serve as inspiring examples of the program’s nurturing of entrepreneurial success.

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