The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) 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 NINJA Business Plan Competition will target startups and organizations from 19 African countries. 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
WHO CAN APPLY
- Organisations with their head office or a branch in one of the target countries.
- Profit/non-profit organisations registered as an independent legal entity. Proposals from individuals will not be considered.
- Companies with a very strong management team of at least 2 people.
- Businesses that have an innovative product(s) or service(s) in response or adaptable to the Pandemic and post-pandemic society OR have a feasible business plan to create prototypes (MVP).
Applicants must meet all criteria mentioned.
- Winners from each country will be given a chance to sign a work contract with JICA for their innovation(s).
- Winners will be eligible for equity/debt-free sum of upto USD 30000 by JICA for covering costs associated with the proposed activities including, 1) remuneration of staffs, 2) other expenses, and 3) indirect local tax.
- Winners may also get the opportunity to travel to Japan for further investments and business partnerships sponsored by JICA.
- 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 establish an evaluation board with outside evaluators experts under strict confidentiality to evaluate proposals.
- Each country will have 8 to 10 finalists out of which up to 5 winners will be selected.
- Winners from each country will participate in the grand finale
Angola, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.
Applications from these countries will be accepted.
- The application deadline has been extended to August 05th, 2020. For Ethiopia, the deadline has been extended to August 26th, 2020 (due to the internet ban).
- Interview of selected startups: Mid to Late August 2020
- Final selection: September 2020
Note: JICA will request the startups invited to be interviewed online to submit additional documents/a pitch deck if necessary.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE
- When applying, each company is to submit a business plan with the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be achieved within about 6 months.
- Before the contract, JICA will examine the details of the proposed activity and the validity of the budget (each expense item) and JICA may request the additional documents to determine the detailed activity in the contract.
- After the contract is signed, startups/organizations must submit monthly reports about the KPIs to JICA. (The duration of the contract will be about 6 months.)
- JICA will make payments based on the progress of the proposed activities and the submission of the progress reports and/or the expense report with receipt.
- The payment schedule will be determined by JICA, and in principle, no advance payment at the commencement of the contract.
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: [email protected]