Public Symposium of Social Business Forum Asia 2014 in Kyushu University
July 15, Tokyo:
Family Business Network (FBN), Seminar for Business Owners
An FBN seminar was held for family business (FB) owners with family members who play a major role in capital or business management. Prof. Yunus’s speech was followed by a work session, where ideas for overcoming poverty were shared, and by a discussion session based on the workshop.
In the work session, participants wrote their ideas on aprons provided by FBN member SEVEN UNIFORM (Hakuyosha Co., Ltd.). Prof. Masaharu Okada (Kyushu University Yunus & Shiiki Social Business Research Center) and Mr. Kazuhiro Fujiwara (Practitioner of Education Reform) led the subsequent discussion session and proceedings, while Prof. Yunus and other participants had talks and a Q&A session.
The seminar helped participants gain a deeper understanding of social business, and of the affinity between social businesses, as advocated/practiced by Prof. Yunus, and family businesses, as characterized by family ownership influencing business and sustainability for the next generation and contributions to the local community.
Yunus & Youth Social Business Design Contest (YY Contest)
The Yunus & Youth Social Business Design Contest (YY Contest) has been hosted by Kyushu University Yunus & Shiiki Social Business Research Center (SBRC), and planned and operated by the Yunus Social Business Club (YSBC) since 2011. The aim has been the realization of social business as advocated by Prof. Yunus. In 2014, it was held for the first time in Tokyo. The Executive Committee of the YY Contest 2014 in Tokyo was made up of local students in Kanto, who hosted the contest with the help of co-sponsor Soka University.
Fully 250 students from 52 teams participated in three preliminary workshops that had been running since May, to polish their plans and compete in the preliminary contest. They received advice from mentors such as professional consultants, professors and business owners. The top four teams in the preliminary contest advanced to the main contest on that day.
All teams presented their plans in English to a panel of judges that included Prof. Yunus. After a close-fought contest, Ritsumeikan University came out as the winner. Their winning project aims at reducing the accumulated waste created by PET bottles, sold through beverage vending machines on campus and elsewhere, by developing a personal bottle, called “my bottle,” and a special application that allows people to drink only as much as they need.
The winning team will go on to the Global Social Business Summit (GSBS) in Mexico City on November 27th and 28th to present their plan to an audience of nearly 1,000 people from more than 50 countries (including the premier of the host country, politicians, economic leaders, famous figures and royalty).
July 16, Tokyo
The CSV Forum was hosted by the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy of Hitotsubashi University, under the theme of “Can Companies Solve Social Issues?” Following the keynote address of Prof. Yunus, a panel discussion was held by Prof. Yunus, Mr. Tadashi Yanai (Chairman, President and CEO of FAST RETAILING CO., LTD.), Prof. Takashi Nawa (Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy, Hitotsubashi University) and Prof. Masaharu Okada (Kyushu University Yunus & Shiiki Social Business Research Center).
The relation between social business and the management strategy concept of “Creating Shared Value” (CSV) was discussed by several corporate participants. CSV was introduced in 2006 by Michael Porter, an American economist specializing in the competitive strategies of corporations. The concept is that companies can create social values (or solve social issues) while making a profit at the same time. The role of Japanese companies was also discussed.
The Public Symposium was cohosted by Kyushu University and Hollywood University Graduate School, and supported by the Japan School of Policy Making and Matsushita Institute of Government and Management. The symposium was launched at Hollywood Plaza in Roppongi with a powerful Japanese drum performance by the Hiryu High School Japanese Drum Club. With a full house and an atmosphere of excitement, Prof. Yunus started with his keynote speech, which was followed by a discussion between Prof. Yunus and the journalist Mr. Akira Ikegami, and a plenary speech entitled “Social Business and Japan.” In closing, a new MOU was signed and project presentations were delivered.
Though Mr. Ikegami has visited Bangladesh as a television journalist, this was his first opportunity to interview Prof. Yunus. He had many questions, including some about the establishment of Grameen Bank, the difference between social business and other businesses run by NPOs/NGOs, governments and local administrations, and questions about what Prof. Yunus expects from young people and companies in Japan. The discussion, peppered with occasional commentary by Prof. Masaharu Okada (Kyushu University SBRC), helped listeners get to the heart of Yunus Social Business, which is based on such inherent human abilities as creativity, dignity and trust. A video of the session was broadcast live on the Niconico website (http://live.nicovideo.jp/watch/lv184828091), and the number of viewers topped 17,000.
In the following session, Prof. Okada served as moderator for several speeches. The management policies of Konosuke Matsushita and Kazuo Inamori were explained by Mr. Kazuya Kaneko (Director, Government and Management Studies, The Matsushita Institute of Government and Management) and Mr. Kenichiro Oku (Professor, Inamori Academy, Kagoshima University), while Prof. Toshimasa Yokozawa (Hollywood University Graduate School) explained the characteristics and common features of long-established companies of Japan. The explanations emphasized that the concept of social business would have seemed very familiar in the context of Japanese business practices from previous eras. Mr. Suguru Oguchi (Chief Operating Officer, Avergence Incorporated), who served as a judge in the YY Contest, then talked about how he got involved in Yunus social businesses, and announced that his company would launch a social business within two years. From the cohost of the YY Contest, Soka University Prof. Hirotomo Teranishi (Director, Deputy Vice President, Director of Undergraduate Education Institute, Soka University) presented the contest debrief and future plans. Finally, Mr. Takato Fukui (Creative Director/Art Director, Social Solution Bureau of Dentsu Inc.) introduced the idea of social design, the company’s efforts to solve social issues by ideas and action.
In the closing, MOUs were signed by the Yunus Center and Hollywood University Graduate School for the commencement of studies to establish a Yunus Social Business Center at Hollywood University and to structure social business in a way that pertains to beauticians. Finally, Mr. Omae, President of Crowd Securities Japan, Inc., presented a plan aimed at the establishment of a social business crowd fund, and closed the symposium by showing the expansion of Yunus Social Business in Japan.
July 17, Kyoto
Lecture at Ritsumeikan University
On the third day of the Japan tour Prof. Yunus travelled from Tokyo to Kyoto to deliver a lecture at Ritsumeikan University, where the winner of the YY Contest two days earlier served as a moderator. The venue was filled with students who appreciated the lively event, the question and answer sessions, and the dialogue with Prof. Yunus.
Many of the students raised their hands to ask questions about everything from their difficulties in deciding whether to find a job in a company or to start their own social businesses, to asking for practical ideas about starting a social business. Prof. Yunus carefully answered each question while conveying his message and expectations to young generations, “If you are already in a leader’s position, be a creator who creates jobs. Don’t wait and look for someone else to give you a job.”
July 18, Fukuoka
On the final day of Social Business Forum Asia 2014, the public symposium took place on the campus of Kyushu University, hosted by Kyushu University SBRC with cooperation from the Rebirth Project, and supported by Miki Shoji Co., Ltd. and the Takeuchi Total Accounting Office. Participants at the packed venue were treated to a keynote address by Prof. Yunus, a discussion between Prof. Yunus and Mr. Yusuke Iseya (Chairman/CEO, REBIRTH PROJECT Co., Ltd.), and a panel discussion with the theme of “University and Social Business.”
Prof. Yunus spoke about the mindset of self-reliance, the importance of ideas and funds, and creativity as an inherent human quality. In the discussion between Prof. Yunus and Mr. Iseya, moderated by Prof. Masaharu Okada of Kyushu University SBRC, Mr. Iseya presented his how he was providing platforms and making products/systems that could change people’s thinking and behavior. Prof. Yunus conveyed a heartfelt message to Mr. Iseya, saying that he would like to see him work as a filmmaker on creating what he called “social fiction” (as opposed to science fiction), where he could present social ideas within a story format that might inspire people to turn that fiction into reality.
※ Click the link for video of Prof. Yunus’s lecture and his discussion with Mr. Iseya -> (Link to the video)
In the following presentation of case projects, Mr. Hans Reitz (Founder of Grameen Creative Lab) spoke about the profile of his organization and overseas projects, while Mr. Soejima (President, Human Harbor Co., Ltd.) introduced the history and business outline of his company, which launched the first Yunus Social Business Company project in Japan. The day concluded with a panel discussion, with Mr. Iseya as a commentator. The panelists included Associate Prof. Ashir Ahmed of the Faculty of Information Science and Electrical Engineering/Grameen Communications, who carries out projects for Kyushu University and Grameen Companies, Prof. Sanae Ito, Dean at the Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University, who has been dispatched to Bangladesh as a member of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and has conducted research on villages with Grameen Bank, Mr. Tatsuya Sugimoto, a Kyushu University sophomore in the Faculty of Economics, who represents the Yunus Social Business Club student organization, and Ms. Mamika Kawahara, who is in her second year of the Master’s program at Kyushu University’s Graduate School of Integrated Frontier Sciences, and who won the first YY Contest with her “Plus Cosme Project.” Their lively discussion on their trials and issues they faced helped the audience better understand what kind of system is needed to implement social business at a university.
Finally, Prof. Okada introduced a manga book about Prof. Yunus that would be published shortly, and brought the symposium and its theme of “Practice” to an inspiring close.