The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has announced the launch of the NINJA Business Plan Competition, aimed at startups emerging during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The NINJA Business Plan Competition will target startups and organisations from 19 African countries, including Egypt, Angola, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria, and Zambia.
The competition aims to support startups in the targeted countries, to contribute towards helping them overcome the current and post-coronavirus economic difficulties.
Applications for the competition are open to startups and organisations in all sectors with a specific focus on emerging businesses in coronavirus-related fields. This includes, but is not limited to, health, disaster management, business services, education, food and agriculture, finance, logistics, and substituting imported goods with local innovative technology.
JICA noted that proposals from individuals will not be considered. It added that to take part in the competition, startups must have their head office or a branch in one of the target countries, and be a non-profit organisation registered as an independent legal entity.
In addition, the startup must have a strong management team of at least two people, and either provide 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).
JICA also said the proposal should introduce some level of innovation in business model terms, along with a new product or service that can be more actively used, and/or profitability in the current and post coronavirus-era. The agency stressed that proposals should be as commercially-oriented as possible.
Startups can apply through the agency’s website on https://www.jica.go.jp/egypt/english/office/topics/200708.html, with the online application process to remain open until 5 August.
Afterwards, an interview of selected startups will begin by mid-August, with the final selection to take place in September.
The winners from each country will be given a chance to sign a work contract with JICA for their innovation(s), and be eligible for sum of up to $30,000 to cover the costs associated with the proposed activities. This includes the remuneration of staff, other expenses, and indirect local tax.
Winners may also get the opportunity to travel to Japan for further investments and business partnerships sponsored by JICA.