Awardees, JICA Representative & Partners

JICA Ninja Incubator Program Launched; Implemented by MDF West Africa and Partners


May 27, 2022, 9:03 a.m.

The burgeoning buzzword “Entrepreneurship” is no easy feat. Hence all who venture on its path must prepare for hailstorms on the journey.

According to studies, about 90% of Startups fail. 10% of Startups fail within the first year. Across all industries, Startup failure rates seem to be close to the same. Failure is most common for startups during years two through five, with 70% falling into this category.

In a bid to curb startup failures and build sustainable businesses that tackle global problems, incubation and acceleration programs have erupted all across the world

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is playing a critical role in this space through its Ninja Program, charting the path for startups to be resilient whilst ensuring sustainable business growth.

Next INnovation with Japan (NINJA) is a startup support initiative by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) launched in January 2020 to promote entrepreneurship, innovation and the creation of new businesses in emerging countries.

Implemented by MDF West Africa in partnership with the Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA), and Accra Digital Center. The Ninja Program in Ghana follows a Brush-Up Training Program that commenced in April.

Twenty-five (25) shortlisted start-ups were taught to adopt the Japanese’s globally accepted model (the lean concept — to reduce waste in business, encourage a customer-centric approach, optimize day-to-day operations, and spark accelerated growth).

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This maiden Brush-Up program saw the participation of young entrepreneurs of diverse cultural and academic backgrounds.

Speaking at the Launch of the Ninja Lean Program 2022, Country Representative for The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Mr. Araki Yasumichi said “We began the Ninja (Next INnovation with Japan) Program in 2020 in 19 countries to support businesses that tackle social challenges”.

The first Ninja Program had over 2700 applicants from 19 Countries. 168 Ghanaian businesses applied to the program, and 3 emerged with the prize.

In this second cohort, JICA would switch up the numbers. Mr. Araki said in his delivery said “The main improvement is of support, with a decision to focus on early-stage entrepreneurship because it is a crucial point for business sustenance.

After a successful Brush-Up program, 7 Startup finalists, on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the Launch and opening ceremony were awarded a support fund of GHC 30,000. In an intervention by the Ghana Innovation Hub, Ghana Enterprise Agency, and Accra Digital Centre, One (1) more candidate was backed to join the selected 7.

Speaking to the Winners of the GHc30,000 support fund, Mr. Araki hinted that through their presentation, he could see that the entrepreneurs have potential in their businesses. However, he was displeased with their business models because they couldn't answer questions about business sustainability and the application of innovative technology for business scaling. The JICA program comes in to help by providing three (3) months of support for entrepreneurs to find the gap between product and customer needs, financial needs, operations needs, and technology risk.

According to Mr. Richard Yeboah, Director for MDF West Africa, "this support funds will be disbursed in tranches based upon the performance of the entrepreneur on the Program. This is to ensure we are building entrepreneurs who are committed to the depths of solving the problems in Africa.

The Ninja Program commences on Thursday, May 26, 2022 through to July 31, 2022, with final business presentations and a closing ceremony. Sessions on the Ninja Program run by MDF West Africa will include in-depth training by industry persons in business operations, lean management and principles, financial management, market opportunity analysis, brand management and packaging, team and leadership.

"I look forward to your presentation after our program and believe you would be very successful". said Mr. Araki


tag: Incubation, Entrepreneurship, Japan, Acceleration, JICA, MDF West Africa,


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