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JICA-supported startup program helps Vietnam draw more investment
Linh Pham 09:43, 2020/08/27
Vietnam's startup ecosystem is thriving thanks to the market size of its economy.

Vietnam is the first beneficiary in Southeast Asia of a startup acceleration program to create business innovation in developing countries supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

NINJA Accelerator in Ho Chi Minh City 

The project Next INnovation with JApan (NINJA) is a startup support program launched since January 2020 aiming to match up with Japanese companies in order to promote investment in the beneficiary countries.

Through the project, JICA intends to collaborate with various stakeholders to develop entrepreneurialism, identify issues experienced by entrepreneurs, make policy recommendations, strengthen corporate management capacity, promote collaboration among enterprises across industries.

With the launching of NINJA Accelerator in Ho Chi Minh City, the project aims to create social impact in Vietnam by focusing on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).

The program is forged by a global partnership among JICA, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, NTUitive Pte Ltd, Singapore, and Saigon Innovation Hub (SIHUB), Vietnam National University Information Technology Park (VNU ITP), and Saigon Hi-tech Park Incubation Centre (SHTPIC), Vietnam.

NINJA Accelerator in Ho Chi Minh City strives to be a driving force in Vietnam’s effort to promote and develop an entrepreneurial environment that will bring about significant economic and social impact.

According to JICA, the final goal is to create homegrown enterprises that lead to job creations and continue to impart entrepreneurship skill sets to the like-minded community, especially in the face of Covid-19.

Vietnam’s startup ecosystem

 Vietnam's fintech startups. Source: Fintechnews

Vietnam is fast becoming a tech startup hub in the ASEAN region. The country is now home to as many as 3,000 startups, making it the third largest startup ecosystem in Asia, according to Topica Founder Institute.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based Fintechnews commented that Vietnam has all the needed characteristics to become a major fintech market thanks to a growing middle class, rising Internet penetration, and a population of nearly 100 million people, most of whom are young and tech-savvy.

The majority of successful tech startups in Vietnam are limited to the three main fields of e-commerce, fintech, and online services.

Vietnam moved up 13 places to the 59th in ranking of 100 economies with the best startup ecosystems (based on three basic aspects namely quantity, quality, and business environment) in a report released in March 2020 by StartupBlink, a global comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research center.

“The ecosystem is mostly thriving due to the substantial market size of the Vietnamese economy, making the creation of successful local startups profitable even if they do not expand out of Vietnam,” said the report.

Currently, Vietnam is at the intersection of manufacturing and IT outsourcing but it is also well positioned to benefit from increased trade in the region.

More importantly, Vietnam’s leadership has committed to making Vietnam a “startup nation” in a bid to accelerate the country’s growth over the next 20 years.

Andrew P. Rowan, an American entrepreneur has lived and worked in Vietnam since 2013, wrote in the book “Startup Vietnam: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Socialist Republic” that Vietnam has experienced significant and rapid economic growth in the last twenty years, a shift that has positioned Vietnam as a leading nation for startups in Southeast Asia.

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