NINJA Lean Program

Inviting startups to apply for the 2022 Program in Ghana
Important Notice: The Application Deadline is Extended from 20th December 2021 to 20th January 2022
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA) and Accra Digital Centre (ADC) together with various key startup ecosystem players, are proud to introduce the NINJA Lean Program in Ghana.

The Project NINJA (Next Innovation with Japan) is JICA’s global initiative to support entrepreneurs and create business innovation in emerging countries. The NINJA Lean Program aims to support startups to turn their dream stage into reality by uncovering prospective customers’ pain points and nurturing a sense of continuous development (the details of the Program are described below).

The application is open for startups with enthusiasm to be game changers to turn problems or gaps that frustrate customers into opportunities to grow their business.

Program Details

Brush-Up Program

Up to twenty (20) shortlisted startups will attend a 4-week program designed to develop their business concept and set specific goals during the NINJA program

Pitch Competition

Shortlisted startups will make a pitch to the evaluation committee, investors, and corporations. Seven (7) winners will be selected. Some of the finalists may get sponsors from invited business firms.

NINJA Lean Program

A comprehensive 12-week program for the seven (7) winners to get feedback from the market with prototype / Minimum Viable Products (MVPs).

Eligibility Criteria

To take part in the NINJA Lean Program, startups must:
1. Have an existing product and/or service, or at the ideation stage*;
*If at the ideation stage, a startup/team must have tested the idea in the market (customer feedback or surveys) 
or have specific technical skills/expertise in the relevant sector(s)
2. Have started business on or after 2018 (both registered and informal businesses can apply);
3. Have a team of at least two people; and
4. Be a for-profit organisation (NOT Non-Profit-Organisation) in any sector.
• A business that is commercially oriented and introduces some innovation is desirable
• The Applicant's age between 18 and 35 is desirable
• Female candidates are encouraged to apply

Benefits for Start-ups

Up to twenty (20) shortlisted startups will benefit from participating in the:
• Brush-Up Program; and
• Pitch opportunities to investors and corporations as potential collaborating partners

Seven (7) winners from the Pitch Competition will benefit from the following:
1. A 12-week free business incubation: NINJA Program, including but not limited to acquiring Lean behaviour/mindset, dedicated mentorship from industry experts
2. Regulatory, finance and governance advisory support
3. Free workspace in Accra
4. Opportunities to access national and international investors and corporations during and after the Program
5. Up to GHC30,000 to be provided to each winner in several instalments at each milestone, under a contract.
All programs will be held in Accra

Program Schedule

1. Application deadline: 20th January 2022
2. Shortlisted applicants notified: Early February 2022
3. Start of Brush-up Program (4 weeks): February 2022
4. Pitch Competition: March 2022
5. NINJA Lean Program (12 weeks): April – June 2022
6. Demo Day (1 day): July 2022
* For any queries about the Program, please get in touch with us at the following email address:


Where does the “Lean” concept come from, and what does it mean?

The concept of Lean developed out of the Toyota Production System, and the Lean Startup adapts its ideas to the context of entrepreneurship by Eric Ries. Through the Program, we expect startups to acquire the Lean behaviour/mindset, simply said, “get out of the building”: test your hypotheses quickly, “trial-and-error learning”, and “continuous development”.

Should the applicants be based in Accra during the NINJA Program?

It is not necessary to be based in Accra during the Program, but it is strongly recommended for you get the opportunity to enjoy interactive conversations and also expand your network.

How will the startup receive the GHC30,000?

We will pay in instalments at each milestone, under the contract that will be agreed upon after the Pitch Competition.

Ready to Sign Up* for NINJA Lean Program?

*Please NOTE that Applications deadline is extended from 20th December 2021 to 20th January 2022

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