Social Enterprise English Language School (SEELS), to which Akira Foundation provides seed capital and advisory services, reported the overall progress of its project to which a grant were awarded from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) under the project to promote creation of social business after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The interim presentations from the grantees took place on December 17, 2013 at the first floor of the annex building of METI, Tokyo. On behalf of SEELS, Hirofumi Yokoi, President of Akira Foundation and External Director of SEELS, provided an overview of SEELS’ project across Miyagi and Fukushima and its project progress to date. In addition, he shared with the judges a brief backdrop of socioeconomic, cultural and behavioral factors that have long affected the Filipino community in Japan, negatively, and stressed that this project would help bring two seemingly separate issues together – lack of educational opportunities for children and job shortage for Filipino migrants – by providing quality of early childhood care and English education services.
METI promotes social businesses because of their potential for creating new industries and jobs at a regional level, especially in disaster areas after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. METI recognizes that this situation has led to an increase in interest in social businesses, a type of business seeking to resolve social problems through business-oriented approaches.
 METI publishes “Social Business Case Book (Post-Disaster Reconstruction Edition)” (13 January 2013) [Online]. Available at: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/2012/0113_01.html (Accessed: 30 August 2013)
 FY2013 Budget Request (29 January 2013) [Online]. Available at: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/aboutmeti/policy/fy2013/pdf/130129budget.pdf (Accessed: 30 August 2013)
Hirofumi & Atsufumi Yokoi, Co-Founders & Co-Presidents of Akira Foundation, have been named among over 30 innovators changing society in the world by Kogan Page, a leading independent global publisher headquartered in London.
The Kogan Page Team carefully reviewed the 100 people Kim Chandler McDonald interviewed in writing and publishing her new book, “Innovation: How Innovators Think, Act and Change Our World.”  They featured 30+ innovators across various sectors and fields that cover healthcare, government to social inequality, education, conservation and more.
30+ key innovators also included Kiva’s Co-Founder and CEO Matt Flannery, former Finland’s Minister of Communication Suvi Linden, and a UNEP Climate Hero Roz Savage, along with other distinguished politicians, social entrepreneurs, engineers, educators, activists, adventurers, young doers and dreamers, and the like.
Ms. Tri Mumpuni, Founder & Executive Director, IBEKA (The People-Centered Business and Economic Institute) was invited as one of the distinguished panelists to the World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship (theWSIE) that was held in New York City from October 9 to 11, 2013. Akira Foundation is one of the strategic partners of theWSIE and, through its role, selected Mumpuni as a delegate and supported her team of IBEKA, financially, for participation in the Summit.
Mumpuni presented as a panelist in the session titled, “Innovation to 0: Future of Clean Energy.” She explained IBEKA’s innovative activities and community development and shared stories of constructing micro-hydro plants that produce electricity. Mumpuni gained recognition from President Obama during the 2010 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington  and won Ramon Magsaysay Award, which is considered Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Akira Foundation became a member of TrustLaw Connect, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono service that connects NGOs and social enterprises with the best law firms around the world.
This opportunity came up suddenly for us from Dongwei Liu, program director at Thomson Reuters Foundation, who contacted us and, soon after that, visited our office in Shibuya, Tokyo. Then, we initiated a discussion about legal challenges facing up to us in promoting and realizing ideas and thoughts around social innovation in Asia and beyond.
“That pro bono service is what we have been waiting for so long,” said Hirofumi & Atsufumi Yokoi, Co-Founders & Presidents of Akira Foundation. “It is prohibitively expensive to get any legal advice and services from lawyers. The more extent to which we expand our services and networks, the higher opportunity costs we have to deal with due to our lack of legal resources and preparation. As such, this new membership should help drive our business forward, even further.”
Launched in 2010, TrustLaw Connect has grown to include over 1,200 members in 145 countries. Its mission is to spread the practice of pro bono worldwide to drive social change.
*Source: TrustLaw Connect’s program brochure in 2013For more information, please click here to see their program brochure
Social Enterprise English Language School (SEELS), to which we provide seed capital and advisory services, was awarded grants from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) under the project to promote creation of social business after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Eight not-for-profit organizations and social enterprises were selected, and SEELS is the only enterprise founded and operated by foreign migrants.The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) promotes social businesses* because of their potential for creating new industries and jobs at a regional level, especially in disaster areas after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. METI recognizes that this situation has led to an increase in interest in social businesses, a type of business seeking to resolve social problems through business-oriented approaches.
*Social business: Activity (or organization) aimed at resolving social issues, such as rural development, the declining birthrate and aging population, environmental conservation, and poverty, through business, while securing commercial viability.For more information, visit:http://www.meti.go.jp/information/publicoffer/saitaku/s130704003.html (Japanese only)