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

REPORT 03

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The savior of a deserted farming village

imageWatching Japan's bubble economy collapse in 1995, experienced business consultant Hisashi Sonehara thought hard about the future of the aging population trapped within Japan's urban-centric economy and decided to act. He relocated to a rural village in Yamanashi Prefecture, where he single-handedly rejuvenated abandoned farmland and started a forestry business.

Within a few years, he became successful. His background of growing up in a rural farming village had certainly helped him, but there was more to it than that.

Abandoned farmland, disused plantations and beautiful wild landscape: the overlooked rural treasure

imageFarming villages all over Japan are suffering from declining populations, as younger generations leave to find work in urban areas. The aged farmers left behind cannot carry on alone, and as a result there are now 400,000 hectares of abandoned farmland in Japan. That's an area twice the size of Tokyo, which is the world's largest metropolitan area.

The countryside's future didn't look bright, but Hisashi’s entrepreneurial antennae sensed that there was treasure to be had. These lands are not wasted; they are still assets. Why not use them to create something new? His Yamanashi village has a winning combination of resources: farmland, plantations, long daylight hours, clean water, and abundance of natural beauty. He set out to build a 21st century green industry and has not looked back.

Connections are key

imageHisashi’s extraordinary success in his first attempt is the result of his unique combination of agricultural knowledge and business acumen. Knowing that he can't transform Japan's rural economy alone, he’s been running educational programs all over Japan to raise more entrepreneurs like him. Already some 200 new business startups have come about due to his courses.

Corporations are also interested in his ideas, and the “Corporate Farm” program is proving to be very popular. Changemaker and Ashoka fellow Hisashi Sonehara's blueprint for the future would generate a million jobs and create an industry worth ten trillion Japanese Yen in the next decade. This is not just a dream: it's a realistic action plan.

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ANA BLUE WING
2019.08.24
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Forbes Acknowledged Ashoka As One of the Top Innovative and Impactful Social Enterprises Forbes listed Ashoka among the top 5 most innovative and impactful social enterprises highlighting them as examples of what can be learned from each to apply to one’s own business. Regarding Ashoka, the Founder and CEO Bill Drayton is considered the godfather of social entrepreneurs by bringing the term into the mainstream. Since 1981 the organization has grown to 3,500 fellows from 92 countries aligned in an effort to make a positive impact in the world. One of the notable traits of the organization highlighted on the list is their youth focus where they strive to work with and influence younger generations and put them in charge of different initiatives.   For more information about Ashoka Japan’s projects, please visit our website, click here. https://bit.ly/30twh6R #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2019.08.23
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Creating a Model for Transportation Medical Care: Takashi Kawazoe Takashi Kawazoe, who was selected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2013, appeared as a guest speaker at the Ashoka Youth Social Venture Fundraising Pitch event held by Ashoka Japan on July 20. The grandson of an A-bomb survivor in Nagasaki, Kawazoe was concerned about health from an early age, and took an interest in medical care management due to factors including his experience of volunteer work at homes for the elderly. Kawazoe founded Carepro, Inc. (http://carepro.co.jp/), developed a system of self-check medical stations, built a scheme for spreading the idea of preventive medicine in Japanese society, and led a policy change in the field. At present, he is constructing a platform for matching of those who don’t have access to transportation and medical and nursing care employees and businesses. He spoke with enthusiasm about his desire to create a model for "transportation medical care" through this service. While it is unfamiliar at present, the term "kotsu iryo" (transportation medical care") may sound familiar soon.   For more information about Ashoka Japan’s projects, please visit our website, click here. https://bit.ly/31rSeTE #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2019.08.22
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From Recovery to a Connection with the Tohoku Region: Nami Harada Nami Harada says she received power from the people of the Tohoku region when she visited the area to do volunteer work in her first year of high school in 2012. She launched Kikkake Syokudo after entering college, out of a desire to find some way to provide support for the region from Kyoto where she lived. To prevent the 3/11 disaster from fading from memory, she started Kikkake Syokudo (https://kikkake-syokudo.org/), where people can enjoy cuisine and alcohol from the Tohoku region on 11th every month. The Reconstruction Agency is going to be abolished in 2021, and she was apprehensive about the plight of the farmers and fishermen after the end of aid from the government. At the Ashoka Youth Social Venture Fundraising Pitch event held by Ashoka Japan, she presented her aspiration to bring her efforts into a new phase by registering Kikkake Syokudo as an NPO, with the help of their supporters as well as farmers and fishermen of the Tohoku Region Rather than focusing on the “recovery” from the disaster, Harada would like to propose many different ways that people in cities can get connected to the Tohoku region.   For more information about Ashoka Japan’s projects, please visit our website, click here. https://bit.ly/2KKH4mn #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2019.08.18
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Positive sports coaching with “Double Goal”: Tadahiro Kobayashi At the Ashoka Youth Social Venture Fundraising Pitch event held by Ashoka Japan, Tadahiro Kobayashi, representing a nonprofit Sports Coaching Initiative (https://www.sports-coach.jp/), made a presentation on how to improve sports coaching culture in Japan. Developed on sports psychology by Ashoka Fellow Jim Thompson (selected in 2004, in the United States), Double-Goal Coaching is a new style of coaching for attainment of both victory and personal growth, without falling into the "winning is everything" mentality. This methodology has been adopted by more than 8.6 million sports coaches in the United States. Kobayashi wants to have it take root in Japan, and asked the participants for their assistance, not only in the form of funding but also through providing knowledge and referring to key people. His pitch resonated with all of the attendees and greatly enlivened the whole venue.   For more information about Ashoka Japan’s projects, please visit our website, click here. https://bit.ly/33lKDHY #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2019.08.18
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Holding of the Ashoka Youth Social Venture Fundraising Pitch Event On July 20, Ashoka Japan held the Ashoka Youth Social Venture Fundraising Pitch event for the first time. At this event, four Youth Venturers (Daichi Yano, Shu Kudo, Tadahiro Kobayashi, and Nami Harada) pitched their own projects. Among 100 Youth Venturers, 13 applied and went through the subsequent screening by a panel of Ashoka Fellows and venture capitalist, and the four passed to be finalists. The selection criterion was whether the project would truly create social impact in the future. The audience listened to the pitches by the four finalists, and then decide how much and to which one(s) to donate. To raise funds, the four earnestly presented their own awareness of issues, determination to take action, project plans, what they would use the funds for, and project strategy. The attendees made some keen observations and asked them some pointed questions. The program unfolded in lively atmosphere of positive feedback which lasted three hours. Such programs held by Ashoka Japan will keep inspiring and encouraging the resolution of social issues in the future.   For more information about Ashoka Japan’s projects, please visit our website, click here. https://bit.ly/2Yzknvc #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2019.08.10
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Empowering Kids Through Involvement Ashoka Fellow Ximena Abogabir, a mother to three Changemaker children, was interviewed by Ashoka and shared some of her philosophy for parenting: "I always involved them in my work and my main message was that work is fun and you can do amazing things. I never said 'thank God it is Friday' because first studying and then work is how I found my best friends and had my best moments. When I brought work home, I always asked them to work together with me. Even when we went on vacation, we would bring paper and pencils and make posters to invite the kids to activities we would organize for the local community. The money we raised we used to build a school."   For more information about Ashoka Japan’s projects, please visit our website, click here. https://bit.ly/31nGEsQ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING

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