The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the agency that coordinates official development assistance for the Japanese government in developing countries, has announced the launch of the NINJA Business Plan Competition for businesses emerging during the COVID-19 outbreak. NINJA is short for Next Innovation with Japan; the project was launched this year.
The NINJA Business Plan Competition will target startups and organizations from 19 African countries (the details are described below). The application is open for startups/organizations in all sectors with a specific focus on emerging businesses in COVID-19-related fields including, but not limited to:
- Health: Online healthcare support; disease-testing solutions; medical data sharing and privacy protection solutions; distribution of drugs and medical equipment; IoT, including 3D printers, in the medical field
- Disaster management: Geo-tracking during disasters; emergency information dissemination
- Business services: Support for remote workers; efficient management/operation of online events
- Education sector: Remote learning support
- Food and agriculture: Efficient food/commodity distribution technology
- Finance: Contactless transactions/payment; lending/insurance services to SMEs and individuals
- Logistics: delivery service, urban mobility management
- Other: Substituting imported goods with local innovative technology
- The proposal should introduce some level of innovation in terms of a business model, a new product or service that can be more actively used, and/or profitability in the current and post COVID-19 era.
- Proposals should be as commercially-oriented as possible.
- JICA may cover the budget of the activities up to USD 30,000. The use of proceed will cover costs associated with the proposed activities including, 1) remuneration of staffs, 2) other expenses, and 3) indirect local tax.
- JICA's finance is not equity nor debt. And applicant will be required to sign the contract between respective JICA offices. However, successful applicants will be obliged to report the progress of their activities, by which JICA will make disbursement. Submission of accounting document and adjustment will be required upon the payment.
- JICA may establish an evaluation board with outside evaluators experts under strict confidentiality to evaluate proposals.
To take part in JICA's NINJA Business Plan Competition, startups must:
- Have their head office or a branch in one of the target countries.
- Be a profit/non-profit organization registered as an independent legal entity. Proposals from individuals will not be considered.
- Have a very strong management team of at least 2 people.
- Have innovative product(s) or service(s) in response or adoptable to the Pandemic and post-Pandemic society OR have a feasible business plan to create prototypes (MVP).
- Burkina Faso
- Côte d'Ivoire
- South Africa
- Application deadline: August 5th, 2020* (First-come, first-reviewed base)
- Interview of selected startups: Mid-Late August, 2020
- Final selection: September, 2020
- Contract with JICA
Note: JICA will request the startups invited to be interviewed online to submit additional documents/a pitch deck if necessary.
Contract with JICA
JICA's consideration about the follow-up support related to this competition
- A final competition among the successful applicants from each country
- Matching events to connect the successful applicants with investors/business partners
- Visit to Japan, as a part of investment/business matching
To apply for the NINJA Business Plan Competition, please click here:
For any queries about the competition, please get in touch with us at the following email address: