Meet the Tóshikas: Empowering African Startups through Japanese Venture Capital Investment

The “Meet the Tóshikas” programme, funded by the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry in Japan, is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and led by Double Feathers Partners (DFP), with BongoHive serving as the local implementation partner. This initiative aims to facilitate Japanese venture capital investment in African startups while simultaneously building the capacity of the participating startups.

The programme spans three countries: Zambia, Angola, and South Africa. Of the more than 250 applications received across these nations, 45% came from Zambia. Following a highly competitive selection process, 15 startups that best suited the programme were identified. These startups were then invited to give a virtual pitch, which determined the 10 startups that Japanese investors found most promising.

The selection criteria for the most attractive startups were based on several key factors. Investors preferred startups that had been operational for approximately three years, demonstrated a validated customer base, and showed strong traction evidenced by a consistent and growing stream of income. Additionally, startups that aligned their business models with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations in 2015 were particularly appealing to investors.

Highlighting the Top 10 Zambian Startups

The top 10 startups from Zambia included:

– AfriOnline
– Astanah
– Bosso Africa Incorporated
– Dawa Clinic Limited
– Duniya Healthcare
– E-Ride Zambia
– Ebusaka Green Technology Limited
– eMsika
– Hrvst
– Mighty Finance

During the week of April 8th, staff from UNDP and Japanese investors from Samurai Incubate and TSI-Japan visited Zambia to conduct site visits with all the participating businesses. This interaction was crucial as it allowed everyone to meet face-to-face and observe operations firsthand. The trip culminated in an ecosystem event at the Neelkanth Sarovar Premiere. In addition to speeches and panel discussions, this event challenged the startups to pitch in front of a live audience and provided an opportunity for further interaction with stakeholders in the startup ecosystem.

Following the ecosystem event, BongoHive recently concluded a boot camp where the 10 startups engaged in sessions on unit economics, customer segmentation, and go-to-market strategies, among others. This boot camp was designed to enhance the capabilities of the startups and help gauge which of them is best suited to “win” the programme.

Among the most promising young innovators in Zambia, Bosso Africa Incorporated (Chisepo Chirwa, Salwa Shamapande) and AfriOnline Group (AfshonWallace) have distinguished themselves. Selected from a pool of 254 companies, these two startups have been recognised as leaders at the “Meet the Tóshikas” programme, led by the UNDP Sustainable Finance Hub.

Bosso Africa Incorporated ( an e-commerce/construction platform) is building a platform to make constructing houses simpler and more affordable. AfriOnline Group (an e-commerce/delivery platform) has evolved from a delivery service to an integrated platform that allows customers to order from restaurants, supermarkets, and wholesale suppliers.

These two startups, along with four others from Angola and South Africa, will participate in a custom-made investment readiness programme, a one-week Japan Roadshow, and each will receive a $20,000 grant.

Congratulations to Bosso Africa Incorporated and AfriOnline Group! We look forward to supporting you over the next three months as you continue to innovate and grow.

At BongoHive, we take pride in offering genuine support to build a stronger and more vibrant local startup ecosystem.