Finding future social entrepreneurs from within Japan. Actively recruiting and cultivating next generation Changemakers. -Ashoka Japan

REPORT 01

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“We are the Change!” Ashoka Japan’s 5th Youth Venture meeting in Tokyo

imagePeople who try to change society - Changemakers - tend to start young. It became evident to Ashoka through numerous meetings with the fellow Changemakers that society’s problems are often best tackled with the energy of youth. What might happen if there were to be a place for 12 - 20 year old future Changemakers to meet up with like-minded youth, discuss ideas, and get support? This is how the Youth Venture program started. Now it runs in 17 countries Worldwide, including Japan.

More young innovators with empathy are needed for a better future

imageInstinctively understanding its importance, Nana Watanabe started the Japanese Youth Venture program two years before Ashoka Japan was launched in 2011 as pilot. If every citizen is to become a Changemaker, Japanese society must change its conformist culture, and that starts with the young. More young innovators with empathy towards others are needed to change the future.

Nana and her staff tirelessly travel around Japan to search for young people who have found contradictions and problems in society and already have an action plan prepared. Ashoka Japan nominates a few Youth Venture activists every quarter, and supports them for a year.

Five young social entrepreneurs already hatched, with more to come

imageThese young people are often isolated at their schools. In Japan, people who stand up and express their opinions are rarely popular. When they join the Youth Venture, they are often surprised to meet like-minded youth, and quickly become firm friends.

At the fifth annual meeting in Tokyo on 26th September, current and past Youth Ventures enjoyed hearing of each other’s progress. Around 200 young people have gone through this program in the past four years, and on reaching working age, five of them decided against seeking ordinary employment to become independent social entrepreneurs. They will be the force for Change.

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