Winners have emerged in the Next Innovation with Japan (NINJA) business plan competition in response to COVID-19 in the country, hosted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The eight startups winners are TradeBuza (agriculture, Lagos), Utiva (education, Lagos), Myclinic.ng (health, Abuja), Rxall (health, Ibadan), Gradely.NG (education, Lagos), Emergency Response Africa (health, Lagos), Routemasters (transport, Lagos) and Lifestores (health, Lagos), will proceed to the incubation phase.
The chief representative JICA Nigeria, Ms Okumura Makiko, while speaking during the virtual ceremony said each start-up will be engaged with JICA to implement their proposals as the Proof of Concept (PoC) project which costs not more than $30,000.
Makiko said the business competition was implemented with support from Ventures Platform Foundation and Office for ICT, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) and other prominent stakeholders.
Shohei Sato from JICA Nigeria revealed that the startups also have an opportunity to pitch possibly in Japan next year if they advance from the next stages of selection that will involve winning startups from 18 other African countries competing with each other.
In his remarks, the deputy director, JICA Headquarters, Akihiko Kodama congratulated the awardees. ‘‘We like to promote startups in Africa. I would like to thank the organizer, the evaluator, and all the applicants who took part in this competition,’’ Kodama said.
Also speaking, the executive director of Ventures Platform Foundation, Mimshach Obioha, thanked the participants and organisers for making this event possible.
He said, ‘’This project is very dear to us at Ventures Platform because it aligns with our mandate and purpose as an organization.
‘’We believe strongly that entrepreneurs and innovators that are solving some of the most pressing problems on the African continent are literally the last frontiers for our development.
‘’So, having these types of projects that look to supporting these entrepreneurs is very key to us. I want to commend all the entrepreneurs that have been a part of this programme.’’
By Tunde Oguntola, Abuja