4 June 2012
Tokyo, Japan

2012 Microfinance Tour to Lebanon has been cancelled due to deteriorating situations in Syria and around neighboring countries, including Lebanon. Syrian conflict has reportedly reignited sectarian violence between Sunni and Alawite Muslims in the city of Tripoli as well as the capital city of Beirut in Lebanon, which caused many casualties over the past weeks. Considering these situations, Akira Foundation has decided to cancel the tour this year for security and safety reasons, in order to avoid any unforeseeable danger and harm which might occur in participants otherwise.

4 May 2012
Tripoli, Lebanon

Baria Daye, a board member of Akira Foundation, was selected as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Developed in 2011, the Global Shapers Community is a worldwide network of WEF of engaged 20-somethings who are self-empowered, passionate and entrepreneurial enough to believe that they can make it happen and shape the globe, positively and proactively. It is modeled on WEF’s Young Global Leaders (YGL), a similar initiative for community leaders in their 30s.

“I am honored to join the Beirut Hub of the WEF Global Shapers community,” said Baria. “It is so enriching to connect with young leaders across the globe in line with the common WEF vision of improving the state of the world.”

According to WEF, “50% of the world’s population is under the age of 27” and “solutions to our global challenges must purposefully engage youth, at all levels – locally, regionally, nationally and globally.”

For this very purpose, WEF ensures that the Global Shapers Community “provides youth with a global platform to shape the future, integrating the personal, community and global dimension.”

“We are discussing youth themes in light of the UN Rio+20, and representing the views and perspectives of our young generation at global decision-making levels,” said Baria. ”I am very grateful to the World Economic Forum for giving the world’s young generation a voice. I can also seize this exciting opportunity to connect with the ‘Tokyo Hub’ there and link them up with Akira Foundation.”

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. 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 programs including the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on NGO Management in the U.S., by the U.S. Department of State, and the 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. With great enthusiasm, Baria also joined the team working on the World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship 2012 which originally was launched in the United Nations in 2006.

28 April 2012
Tokyo, Japan

Akira Social Ventures (Dubai, UAE) and Akira Foundation are ready to announce the Microfinance Tour to Lebanon this August. This tour is prepared for undergraduate, graduate students and researchers in Japan and offers them the opportunity to travel Lebanon for one week to bring their experiences back to the classroom and harness them toward future careers.

The tour will acquaint the participants with Lebanese microfinance industry in the context of Lebanese cultural and historical heritage. It includes a wide range of site visits in Beirut, Sidon, Tyre, Barouk, Tannourine and Tripoli. Visits to Al Majmoua, the oldest microfinance institution in Lebanon, and microfinance clients, as well as to several old cities, religious sites and Cedar reserves are significant parts of the program.

The tour focuses on a simple tourism with a microfinance theme to help participants have a better understanding of mixed religious and culture by visiting several sites, and learn about the development of a microfinance market as influenced by historical, cultural and socio-political factors, through microfinance client visits in both rural and suburban areas.

14 February 2012
Tokyo, Japan

Hirofumi Yokoi was invited as one of the guest speakers at the third meeting of the business and finance for the Base of the Pyramid (BOP) which was held at the head office of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) on February 14, 2012.

The event, organized by the Trade Insurance Division of Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau, METI, leads the staff and officers at METI to gain an understanding in business cases and practices of the BOP market and the financial and technical assistances to drive and grow the market, effectively and sustainably.

Along with Hirofumi Yokoi, Mr. Katsuji Matsunami, Resident Director General, Japan Representative Office of Asian Development Bank (ADB), was also invited as another guest speaker to present his slides of ‘ADB’s BOP Fund,’ and shared some of his experience and thoughts on the past and present activities, and future plans of the BOP businesses and funds across Asia.

Hirofumi Yokoi presented and shared true stories and cases of the ‘Microfinance Crisis,’ which resulted from over-indebted borrowers who were triggered by a perfect storm of lenient credit policy, lack of internal control, sub-par governance, poor management information system, multiple credit lending and global financial crisis. These crises had been seen across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where he used to work on a couple of social development projects, one of which was the Grameen-Jameel microfinance joint venture.

His presentation was analytical, empirical and thought provoking, and addressed the role of practical intelligence and knowledge acquisition of how to make the BOP market financially inclusive and its business operationally sustainable, for the audience.

10 February 2012
Atsufumi Yokoi | Cambridge, UK / Cape Town, South Africa

Atsufumi Yokoi was honored to be selected as one of the prestigious delegates in the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL) this year. The CPSL has over twenty years of experience of working with global leaders from business, government and civil society, sponsored by HRH the Prince of Wales. To address critical global challenges, the CPSL provides international forums and seminars for senior executives across the globe, which enables them to deepen their understanding of today’s social, economical and environmental landscape and to explore their leadership that benefits their own organization and society as a whole. As one of the delegates at the CPSL, Atsufumi will attend the upcoming seminar, ‘Cambridge Sustainability Practitioner Programme’, being held at the Devon Valley Hotel in Stellenbosch (Western Cape, South Africa), and then, he will become a member of the Cambridge Sustainability Netowork (CSN) to share knowledge, foster cooperation and achieve real challenges together with global leaders.