The aim of W-SHIFT project seminar series is to build business plans to change the world and use business as a mean to solve social issues with the motto “We shift, the World shifts”. For the third seminar, we invited Daichi Konuma, CEO of CROSS FIELDS, an NPO collaborating with companies, public administrations and NPOs, and providing them with the Ryushoku program. “Ryushoku” is a program for employees of Japanese companies to work at NPOs or NGOs in developing countries for several months, using skills of their primary jobs to approach and solve social problems cooperating with locals. It is a win-win model both for developing countries and for Japanese companies, contributing to solving local social issues as well as to employees’ self-development and fostering innovations.
After graduating from university, I joined the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) to contribute helping “poor people in developing countries”, but in fact, there were no “poor people” in Syria where I was dispatched. All the locals in Syria were enthusiastic about their mission to improve the situation in their country and looked very brave and smart.
After returning home from Syria, I met with a friend from school years. What I heard from that friend, who initially took a job at an enterprise aspiring to change Japan and the society, were arguments such as “You ought to grow up and find a proper job.” My friend had lost all the feelings and passions in school days after several years of working at a company. Taken aback by the reality, I also felt it’s a shame the way young people lose their passions and ideals, which as a result affects Japanese society and businesses. This urged me to do something to change this society.
The light I saw in the eyes of Syrian people I met during my JOCV service and what has become of my friends back in Japan. The result I came up with to fill the gap between those two things was the “Ryushoku” program which helps finding solutions to problems in developing countries, were the volunteers are deployed, by using their business competencies. I am sure this program is a win-win business model as it gives merits to companies in terms of “global human resource development”, “market development in developing countries” and “organizational revitalization”, and to the local communities of developing companies, facilitation of “solution to social issues”.
People who experienced the Ryushoku program sometime make such comments as “I make more mistakes in my job after returning to Japan.” This is the proof that they are tackling with new things. Tackling with problems in developing countries, clashing with the locals and with their team members in Japan. Challenging your own limit to create something new, with full effort and skills. Those experiences will be the simulation of hardships experienced when starting a new business and the bond you created with the people you went through this formative experience with will stay strong for generations, and that passion will lead to the new development of products and services. “This kind of experience is necessary for today’s society.” emphasized Konuma.
“Social contribution”, “Motivation improvement of younger member of society”, “Development of global human resources” and “Development of emerging markets”, those keywords are exactly the problems or issues in Japanese society. Ryushoku is such a wonderful program that it gives the opportunity to contribute to the developing countries’ growth, but also to solve the companies’ issues. This presentation recalled us that whichever business you are working in, it is important to feel compassion for others, as it is a driving force of entrepreneurship.
Host: City Planning Bureau, City of Osaka