First step in collaboration between JICA and USAID in the field of corporate support: "JICA YALI Alumni networking event in Ghana"


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Event name:JICA YALI Alumni networking event in Ghana
Date: May 2, 2023
Sponsors: Co-sponsored by JICA and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Location: Ghana (Accra)

Moderators and panelists

• A total of 56 people including online participated in this event.

• From USAID side, alumni of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program, a training program for Young African leaders funded by USAID and implemented by the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), participated from African countries including Ghana, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire. In addition, staff from the YALI Regional Leadership Center West Africa Accra, USAID Headquarters, and USAID West Africa Regional Office participated.

• Participants from JICA side were entrepreneurs who have completed the NINJA program, which is a start-up support implemented by JICA, almuni of the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative), staff from Ghana Enterprise Agency(GEA) which is the counterpart of a technical cooperation project "Enterprise Development Project with Kaizen", and local companies that have undergone Kaizen training. In addition, staff from the JICA Ghana Office, the JICA United States Office, and the JICA Headquarters participated.

A look of the discussion

Primary objectives and outcomes

• The initial impetus was a request from USAID for cooperation between the YALI program and the corporate support field implemented by JICA. The YALI Regional Leadership Center West Africa Accra were interested in NINJA and Kaizen, because these two programs are relevant to the needs of YALI alumni with small business enterprises. We considered the content of the collaboration.

• The YALI program has a Regional Leadership Center in Ghana, and has carried out training programs for young African leaders since 2015. In addition, JICA also implemented a comprehensive project that included both Kaizen and NINJA components in the technical cooperation project "Enterprise Development Project with Kaizen" in Ghana, therefore we selected Ghana as the first country to collaborate.

• As a first step in cooperation, we decided to hold a network event in order to deepen the understanding of both YALI and Kaizen/NINJA, and to create opportunities for future matching between NINJA, ABE Initiative and YALI Program alumni based on their experience of starting a business as young entrepreneurs.

A look of the discussion

Content of the discussions

(Program of the day)

[Presentation session]
1. YALI program description
Explanation about YALI from the Project Director/Chief of Party for the YALI Regional Leadership Center West Africa Accra. Expectations for synergy through cooperation with JICA were mentioned.
2. Description of the ABE Initiative
Mr. Daniel, CEO of Transonica, who completed the ABE Initiative and was voted second by the audience in the 2020 NINJA Program, gave an overview of the ABE Initiative and what he learned.
3. Explanation of the Kaizen concept
Ms. Juliana and Ms. Stephenia, business advisors of the Ghana Enterprise Agency, the counterpart of the "Enterprise Development Project with Kaizen", shared the concept and examples of Kaizen.
4. Explanation of the NINJA concept
Ms. Ruth, who participated in the 2022 NINJA program, explained the concept of the "Lean Method", which was the main topic of 2022 NINJA program, and introduced her own practice.

[Round table session]
Each participant was divided into three groups and discussed on the theme "How can Kaizen and lean methods be applied to your business?" Some said they wanted to introduce the standardization of work, which is a characteristic of kaizen, and others said that they were impressed by the high level of NINJA entrepreneurs who used the lean method. In addition, there was a lively exchange of opinions, such as sharing examples of collaboration with JICA volunteers in Kaizen.

(Future cooperation)
• We are exploring possiblities for a follow-up alumni networking event.
• This networking event is the first step in collaboration between JICA and USAID in the field of corporate support, and we are planning to visit companies that have introduced Kaizen and companies that YALI alumni have started.
• Opinions were also exchanged on a proposal for collaboration between the YALI program and Kaizen training, and a networking event for government officials.

Greeting from YALI staff