Meet our leadership team

Hirofumi Yokoi, Japan

President, Chief Executive Officer

“Regardless of how social innovation is defined, we continue to work together with people and institutions on the intersection between experience and education, and we believe that, through the hybrid, reciprocal practice, the world becomes worth living with mutual empathy and peaceful coexistence.”

Hirofumi founded Akira Foundation in 2009 and leads its strategy in line with its vision and mission. He is primarily responsible for exploring and developing business practices and educational programs of social innovation and entrepreneurship, while overseeing fundraising planning and implementation.

Prior to founding Akira Foundation, Hirofumi worked with Abdul Latif Jameel Foundation in Beirut, Lebanon. In this role he was in charge of market research and analytic solutions for social business programs, including the MIT Arab Business Plan Competition (Lebanon) and the Grameen-Jameel microfinance joint venture (U.A.E.). He began his professional career as a senior manager and analyst at a Detroit-based automotive forecasting firm.

Hirofumi has taken numerous advisory roles in national and international organizations including as a strategic partner for the World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship (theWSIE) and a country director in Japan for the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program at American Councils for International Educations (ACIE). He was a project assistant professor in the Global Leadership Program (GLP) at the University of Tokyo.

Hirofumi has been selected as a 2015 fellow for the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders (EPNL) at Stanford University. He received the World Children’s Award 2015 from the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF), Washington, D.C., and was listed among over 30 innovators changing society in the ‘Innovative Ideas for Business Success’ by Kogan Page, UK in 2013.

Hirofumi holds a Post-MBA from McGill University and an MBA from the University of San Francisco. He also completed an annual executive program on Financial Institutions for Private Enterprise Development (FIPED) at Harvard Kennedy School.

Baria Daye, Lebanon

Director, Open Innovation

Baria Daye is a consultant analyst on the Starting a Business indicator at the Doing Business Unit, part of the Financial and Private Sector Development Vice-Presidency at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), The World Bank Group. ( http://www.doingbusiness.org/ ) She also is a passionate civil society activist with an entrepreneurial twist. Particularly interested in youth empowerment and gender issues, Baria founded the Tripoli Youth Forum NGO while still at college, worked as Policy Advocate for Women’s Issues in Lebanon at Vital Voices Global Partnership US-based NGO, and occupied a Board Membership at the Fadila Wassef Fattal Cultural Salon. Holding a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from the American University of Beirut, Baria pursued a graduate academic degree in Business Administration (MBA) at the Lebanese American University. As a result of her diverse background and activism record, she developed a specific interest in tackling social problems from a business perspective through sustainable entrepreneurship, which led to her involvement as Board Member at the Maurice Fadel Prize for the best business plan competition in North Lebanon. She has completed a wide range of international training programmes including: International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on NGO Management in the U.S., by the U.S. Department of State and thus became member of the Lebanese State Alumni Community (LSAC); Human Rights towards Gender Equality in Sweden, by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU), and Uppsala University; Women Entrepreneurship Promotion Executive Program in the Netherlands, by the Maastricht School of Management (MSM). With great enthusiasm, Baria also joined the team working on the World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship 2012 (www.thewsie.org) organized by the Design-Innovation Company “Tranzishen”. She was selected as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2012.

Cesar Santoyo, Philippines

Director, Community Development

Cesar V. Santoyo is the President of Social Enterprise English Language School, which provides middle- and low-income families with innovative and compelling English language teaching services by Filipino migrant women in Japan as certified teachers. Since the Great East Earthquake on March 11, 2011, Cesar has led SEELS and been committed to improving the lives of both underserved Filipino migrant women’s and Japanese people’s across disaster-stricken regions including Fukushima and Sendai, Japan.
Prior to starting SEELS, Cesar founded the Center for Japanese-Filipino Families (CJFF) in 2000 and, as the Executive Director, leads a program to enhance the quality of life for Filipino migrant women and improve the perceived image of theirs among Japanese by creating jobs to them as English teachers. Before relocating to Japan, he lived in Hong Kong and worked as Executive Director at the Asian Center for Development Studies (ASCEND) in coordinating reforestation initiatives of farmers’ organizations in the Philippines.
Cesar received the Geny Lopez Bayaning Filipino Award 2012, and his social enterprise, SEELS, was selected for the 1st Michinoku Entrepreneurship program led by Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities (ETIC). Furthermore, SEELS was named one of the Global Hot 100 Companies at the World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship (THEWSIE) held in Boston in September 2012.

Sosha Mitsunaga Smith, Japan

Director, Youth Development

Mr. Sosha Mitsunaga Smith is CEO of Common Earth Company.

Born to a Japanese mother and American father, Sosha grew up flying between the two countries. After a few years in the language education industry, Sosha co-founds a language consulting firm to offer global translations services.

Continuing his volunteer work in Tohoku after the North East Japan Earthquake in 2011, he graduated Waseda Business School. One of the several things he did while volunteering was to make use of his bilingual skills and take action in coordinating and translating for foreign aid groups that flew in.

After going back to finishing his MBA degree in Tokyo, he decided to forward his vision and go one step further – to create a business that can provide a sustainable channel to empower communities such as those is Tohoku. This was Earth Camp – the first service of Common Earth Company.

Kensuke Mori, Japan

Director, Legal Affairs

Kensuke Mori joined Akira Foundation in 2010 as an auditor, and since then, he has helped and given legal advice to Akira Foundation.

He opened his own office as a Certified Administrative Scrivener in 2007. Inspired and motivated by Mr. Muhammad Yunus and his microcredit methods operated by Grameen Bank, he has helped young social entrepreneurs in Japan to make decisions in choosing a form of better legal entities and to found and manage their organizations.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Law at the Gakushuin University.

International Advisory Board Members

Mr. C. Jeffrey Char, Japan

President and CEO, J-Seed Ventures, Inc.

Ms. Tri Mumpuni, Indonesia

Founder and Executive Director, IBEKA

Ms. Masami Hayashi, Mexico

Managing Director, Microfinance Network