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Life after Graduation from JICA ABE Initiative: Becoming an Arbitrator of the World at JICA Kenya Office (February 2022)

Jacquiline Mathenge is now a JICA Kenya Program officer in charge of private sector support. Before this, she participated in JICA's ABE Initiative (the Master's degree and internship program of the African Business Education Initiative for youth) and learned many things. She speaks with us about her experience and learnings during her time as JICA scholar at the International University of Japan.

Life after Graduation from JICA ABE Initiative: Becoming an Arbitrator of the World at JICA Kenya Office


Name: Jacquiline Njoki Mathenge
Country of Origin: Kenya
Faculty and University: Graduate School of International Management, International University of Japan
JICA Course: ABE initiative 1st batch (FSY2014)

Research Area/Theme: Finance, Service quality, Project management, Investment banking and trade

Finding out about JICA

"In Kenya, I was studying at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, which had multiple collaborations with Japanese universities and JICA. When I found out about the JICA scholarship, I decided to apply, since it seemed like a great opportunity", Jacquiline says.

Jacquiline was motivated to go to Japan at the prospect of working for the internet and mobile banking industry in Kenya as she was working for a local bank at Money Transfer Services department. She wanted to be able to uphold Japanese standards of quality and eventually contribute to better service in the banking sector in her own country.

So, with the JICA ABE initiative scholarship, she landed at the Graduate School of International Management at the International University of Japan in Niigata. Between 2014 and 2016, she completed her master's degree in business administration, majoring in two subjects—finance and project management.

All courses provided in English


"I had never spoken Japanese before and did not realize how difficult it might be. Thankfully, the program in my university was conducted in English" says Jacquiline.

Eventually, she did enrolled in programs where she learnt Japanese from her peers and helped them learn English. Interactions with peers from other countries enriched her understanding of various global perspectives on life and work.

"I enjoyed my time in Japan and got to learn more about their culture. I would not change anything about it" she adds.

Field trips and an internship program at a Japanese company

For Jacquiline, one of the most exciting aspects of studying in Japan was the ability to go on various academic field trips, such as those to museums and landmarks of cultural importance or companies like Nissan and Toyota, which provided a deeper understanding of the practical applications of the topics she learnt in class, Japanese culture, and technological development. Additionally, learning through case studies, either individually or via team projects, provided her with multiple different perspectives from her peers, which made it extra interesting.

"Another great aspect was that after finishing a year of course work, I could intern at a Japanese company to learn more about the work culture. I interned in a large telemarketing organization in Tokyo and conducted market research on African telemarketing. This allowed me to gain additional skills", she says.

She stresses that qualities such as team management, honesty, diligence, and efficiency are upheld in the Japanese work culture, and she is proud to have learned to incorporate them as a working professional.

A career enriched

Jacquiline has a background in finance and is a certified public accountant with a strong inclination towards project management. Since JICA provides official development assistance, it implements multiple projects on behalf of the Japan government. Being involved in these projects allows her to use the background and skills she obtained in Japan, to contribute to the growth of Kenya directly.

She remarks that her experiences have helped her understand the differences between the Kenyan and Japanese working styles and ideologies, enabling her to provide a middle ground between Kenyan and Japanese counterparts in negotiations.

Advice for prospective JICA scholars

Jacquiline highly recommends studying in Japan through the JICA scholarship.

"The best way to learn in Japan is to keep an open mind to different cultures and make the most of opportunities that come knocking. I recommend immersing oneself in cultural activities while also focusing on academics to get the best out of the experience of studying in Japan."

Become JICA graduates forever


Jacquiline remains in touch with her peers and mentors, thanks to a robust alumni network on multiple social media platforms. "We get to mentor new students and remain in touch quite often as a large online community", she says. She also meets JICA scholars in Kenya from time to time.

"I chose to work with JICA Kenya, because here I get to be involved in the development space. Although I am into finance, I would like my work to have an impact and bring about social change, no matter how small or big it is", she says.