Running a successful startup in countries in the Middle East, like Egypt, involves tackling quite unique challenges. The Middle East has quite the analytical workforce, and with the failure of many startups, comes the crucial step of applying the lessons learned.
JICA, the Japanese governmental development agency, aims at fostering innovation by collaborating with local startups to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals in various countries, including Egypt.
This time around, JICA launched the “NINJA business plan competition” to specifically promote businesses emerging in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. NINJA is short for “Next Innovation with Japan”.
PractiQ Digital Consultants Team was hired to provide Monitoring and Mentoring services for the selected startups. PractiQ is a management consulting firm specialized in Managing transformations through technology-friendly enablement. They operate across different functional streams including decision support, operations efficiency, and capacity building.
In addition to mentorship and the strict startup diets that Practiq commands, they also created a platform for their incumbent startups to seamlessly deal with tax and social insurance compliance with the Egyptian Government.
Entrepreneurs wishing to participate must consider two factors, according to JICA.
Business readiness: Since its inception, how has your business value proposition changed? Did your product or service reach an adequate product-market fit? Are customers pulling your product or are you trying to force it on them, to no avail?
Investment readiness: Injecting money into a startup is not a foolproof way to grow. Sometimes it can be bad. So, is your startup mature enough to handle investing and spending money with a high ROI?
Three startups had already obtained support from JICA in previous rounds. Now, they are penning success stories and building a more economically sustainable Egypt.
The leading disability social enterprise in the MENA region is removing barriers towards the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in partnership with JICA. HELM has set forth to empower persons with disabilities by providing them with training programs in preparation for the workplace. Helm is a social enterprise initiative, with a team that will help the Egyptian economy build an infrastructure that makes the most out of everybody, whether they are challenged with disabilities or not.
Through its new initiative, Helm Academy, Helm’s founders will help People With Disabilities be more than a branding tool for companies that want to seem inclusive, it will help turn PWDs into truly productive, skilled, and contributing members of society, and with JICA’s support, this vision will turn into a crisp reality.
Just recently, JICA aided Helm in running its first initiative to help Egypt create a more inclusive workplace. With JICA’s support, not only did our team of experts help Helm reach a more than adequate maturity, but also gave them an exceptional understanding of their market for sustainable business.
Dileny-Tech is a fast-growing HealthTech startup in Africa empowering radiology with AI, supported by JICA. Developing artificial intelligence (AI) and medical imaging technologies to empower radiology.
With JICA’s support and vast network, DilenyTech was acquired (for an undisclosed sum) by Astute, a US-based Imaging therapy provider. In addition to that, JICA helped DilenyTech’s founder in solidifying its business model, exploring new market opportunities, pitching to investors, and meeting with business experts and radiology stockholders. This contributed towards establishing themselves as a prominent player in the market.
DilenyTech is a member of the NVIDIA Inception program and Microsoft for Startups program.
In 2020, DilenyTech was granted its first US patent in medical imaging and was able to secure a $160,000 non-equity grant in 2021.
-NANO-FIB-TECH: The Egyptian startup set out to change the future of hygiene, and how JICA is helping it get there.
From Laboratory to Market; Making harsh chemical-free, alcohol-free, easy-on-the-skin sanitizers and gels in an eco-friendly scope by the power of Nanotechnology.
JICA helped them formulate the best product, test toll manufacturing, readiness for registration, find a strong pricing model, and supported them on closing deals with prospective clients.
Here’s what this means to the Egyptian Entrepreneur…
It means that no matter what your radical idea is, no matter how “small” your niche is, whether it’s to make skin-friendly sanitizers, to help the disabled get accepted into coveted vocations, or if you help physicians make better decisions for their patients’ cases, there’s a way to make it work.
So long as your startup aims at sustainable development, JICA’s proven track record has helped people like you turn newly incepted ideas into industry goliaths that help the MENA region build strong economies built on empathy, cutting-edge development, and economic growth.