The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Ministry of Innovation and Technology of Ethiopia (MinT) are pleased to announce the “Ethiopia Acceleration Program Kickoff & Pitch event” for investors and companies from Japan and from all over the world as well as anyone interested in Africa, as part of “Project NINJA (Next Innovation with Japan)”.
15 Ethiopian startups which have passed the first and second rounds among approximately 100 applicants will pitch and the 6 companies will be selected to participate in the Acceleration Program! The 6 selected startups will conduct Proof of Concept (PoC) with JICA and will join four months of business development training. They will also participate in a knowledge co-creation program in Japan in July 2023. This is a great opportunity to get to know the businesses of the startups that have been selected through a rigorous selection process! The top 6 startups will be selected by your vote on the day of the event. Also, startups will elaborate their business plan based on your questions and comments.
If you would like to meet with these startups in Japan during the knowledge co-creation program from 10 June(Sat) to 21 June(Wed) 2023, please contact the person in charge by April 30 (Sun), 2023. In between lectures and visits, we will arrange the date and time as much as possible (please note that it may be difficult to make adjustments). It is intended to be face-to-face, but it can also be online. (The person in charge: AOKI Rika (Ms.) Team 2, Private Sector Development Group, Economic Development Department Email address: [email protected]).
- Name: Ethiopia NINJA Acceleration Kickoff & Pitch event
- Co-organizers: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Ministry of Innovation and Technology of Ethiopia (MinT)
- Implementing Partner: Renew Capital
- Date & Time: Friday, April 7th, 2023, 9am-11:30am (EAT), 3pm-5:00pm (JPT)
|9:00am (3:00pm)||Opening remarks|
|9:15am (3:15pm)||Panel discussion
|9:45am (3:45pm)||Pitches by 6 Ethiopian startups and judging
|10:45 (16:45pm)||Voting by Online Participants
Votes and comments by the judges
|11:15pm b(17:15pm)||Closing remarks|
Ethiopia NINJA Acceleration Program Overview
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Ethiopian Ministry of Technology and Innovation (MinT) are implementing the Next Innovation with Japan (NINJA) Acceleration Program with the aim of supporting outstanding startups that solve social problems and contribute significantly to economic growth and employment in Ethiopia. The ten-month acceleration program and pitch competition are aimed at improving and enhancing the environment of startups by helping entrepreneurs obtain training, improve access to funding and connect them with critical resources to actualize their business plans.
A call for participating companies was issued in December 2022, and 31 companies were selected in the first round from approximately 100 Ethiopian startups that applied. In January 2023, 31 companies participated in a one-week training program facilitated by Renew Capital, an investment firm active in Africa and operational in Ethiopia for the last 10 years, on best practices in business operations and execution, as well as investment preparedness. Over the course of two pitch and selection phases, the selected startups pitched to a live audience of investors, evaluators and participants who asked pertinent questions and provided advice on each company’s pitch. The Final Pitch Event, which took place on March 8 and was attended by over 100 people, resulted in the selection of six finalists who will be showcased during the Kickoff Conference & Pitch Event.
Acceleration Program Milestones to Date
１) One-week training program
31 companies, selected from approximately 100 companies through a screening process, participated in a one-week training on business operations and execution, as well as investment preparedness. Each company provided a demo pitch and received feedback and advice from members of Renew Capital’s team, an investment firm based in Ethiopia, on the elements of a successful pitch. Participating companies also learned about best practices in the areas of finance, marketing, product-market fit (PMF), and other skills necessary for entrepreneurs.
2) Second round of selection
In February, startups that participated in the one-week training program participated in the second round selection process, using the pitch deck and skills that they had brushed up on during the training. The judges were amazed at the pitches, which were more polished than during the training. As a result, 15 companies were selected to advance.
3) Final Online Pitch Selection
On March 8, 2023, the final pitch was held physically and online, connected to the world. Approximately 220 people pre-registered for the event, and about 100 people participated online and at the venue. 15 startups made passionate final pitches, and tough questions were asked by a panel of judges working as investors. After the selection, the entrepreneurs had lunch together as a social event, and the entrepreneurs commented to each other that they were more nervous than usual with the video and the tough questions from the judges, and they also showed their expressions of accomplishment after the event.