24 September 2013
Sendai, Japan

SEELS is featured in “Kyoto Journal.” This is a great storytelling article about how SEELS has evolved and what social stigma Filipino communities face in Japan.

The article describes bitter life experiences Filipino women have had after they migrated to Japan, how the Great Tohoku Earthquake impacted their life, and what challenges SEELS faces on its operation.

Many Filipino women migrated to Japan to work in nightclubs in 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s with entertainer visas, and often their workplaces show violence, coercion, debt bondage, and, in some worst case, sex-slave-like treatment. What makes their situations harder is Japanese prejudice and bias toward Filipino women. While SEELS works hard to make life transition for those women from entertainers to English teachers through its training program, many Japanese still consider most Filipino women as hostesses and do not much differentiate hostesses from prostitutes. One Filipino woman was even fired as an English teacher because she worked as hostess as well.

In addition, even though many Japanese now consider obtaining English proficiency is essential for internationalization, often ‘Internationalization’ for them is rather ‘Westernization,’ resulting in choosing American, British, and Australian English teachers over Filipino English teachers.

Cesar Santoyo, President of SEELS, has tackled those obstacles and challenges in managing and operating SEELS, and he keeps empowering those Filipino women everyday.

Source: “Kyoto Journal,” and for the full article, please click here.

09 Aug 2013
Tokyo, Japan

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[1], 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.[2]

* 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)

[1] 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)
[2] 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)
13 June 2013
Washington, D.C., USA

Washington, D.C., June 13, 2013 – American Councils for International Education and the U.S.-Japan Council today announced the launch of the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program. Developed and implemented by American Councils, the exchange program promotes cultural awareness and sensitivity among Japanese and American high school students by focusing on service learning and social entrepreneurship as the primary themes for the study tour. After living and studying in their host countries, both the American and Japanese students will be required to design a service project with the goal of improving the lives of residents of Tohoku, Japan who are still recovering from the earthquake there that created US$235 Billion in damages and loss.

Dr. Dan E. Davidson, President of American Councils notes, “This program introduces young people in the U.S. and Japan to the challenges that each country has endured due to natural disasters and to how our communities respond to those events. Exchange opportunities instill mutual understanding and empathy in our youth, strengthening bonds of cooperation and friendship between the U.S. and Japan.”

Program participants will include six Washington, D.C. public high school students and an accompanying teacher, as well as an equal number of students from Tokyo, Japan. Japanese students will travel to Washington, D.C. for three weeks during July and August, 2013 to live with American host families and visit local high schools. While in Washington, they will meet with social and business entrepreneurs, as well as a variety of organizations that focus on social issues. These meetings will be designed to provide participants with the knowledge and skills they need to develop their own service project, as well as to match them up with experienced mentors from partner organizations. Emphasis will be placed on significantly increasing participants’ cross-cultural understanding, self-esteem, empathy, tolerance, entrepreneurial spirit and leadership skills.

In Japan, American students will participate in similar activities, learning about Japanese culture and civic engagement models as well as participating in a variety of local service projects. These students will also share their perspectives on how community service and social safety nets are implemented in their communities in the United States with their Japanese hosts.

TOMODACHI means “friend” in Japanese. The TOMODACHI initiative seeks to foster a “TOMODACHI generation” of young American and Japanese leaders who are committed to and engaged in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, appreciate each other’s countries and cultures, and possess the global skills and mindsets needed to contribute to and thrive in a more cooperative, prosperous, and secure world.

The Akira Foundation, which fosters Japanese social entrepreneurship and problem-solving through education, will be the local partner providing infrastructure, program development, and managerial support in Japan. Globalize DC, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization with extensive experience working in international education and exchange programs, will serve as the local partner for U.S. student recruitment, selection, preparation, and follow-on programming. California-based The World We Want Foundation will provide a social action framework called “Problem-Solution-Impact and Story,” which will allow both U.S. and Japanese students to report on their social projects and gauge their impact.

This program is funded by TOMODACHI’s Fund for Exchanges through generous contributions from Toyota Motor Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Hitachi, Ltd.

# # #

The TOMODACHI Initiative is a public-private partnership, born out of support for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, that invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as entrepreneurship and leadership programs.
American Councils is a leader in international education, academic exchange, and overseas language immersion. American Councils creates opportunities that prepare individuals and institutions for success in an increasingly globalized world.

2 March 2013
Tokyo, Japan

Akira Foundation was quoted in one of the most credible and widely known news media, Inter Press Service (IPS), in Europe.

The report by Daan Bauwens discusses the emergence of the new social movement in Japan in a historical and socio-economic context. On this article, Daan quoted comments from leading organizations in the arena of social innovation and entrepreneurship, including Ashoka, Kopernik and Akira Foundation.

The full report can be found below

24 February 2013
Tokyo, Japan

World in Asia (WiA) announced on February 24, 2013 that SEELS, which Akira Foundation (AFJ) funded and has supported, has been awarded a grant by WiA with the other three recipients. WiA has supported local social entrepreneurs and innovators keen to tackle social and economic challenges in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami that occurred on March 11, 2011.

Social Enterprise English Language School, or ‘SEELS,’ was founded by Cesar V. Santoyo in May, 2011 and, since then, has been supported by Akira Foundation, financially and non-financially. SEELS aims to create job opportunities as English teachers for more than 6,000 Filipino living in Tohoku, in the northeastern part of Japan. It provides English and international early childhood education services at an affordable price, which may fit well in the severe financial hardship condition of the families who fall under the middle income bracket, as well as in need of global-minded human resources.

“This award means a lot in order to narrow the gap between the communities of local Japanese parents and children and Filipinos,” said Cesar V. Santoyo, founder and CEO of SEELS. “Not only that financial assistance would help us leverage SEELS’ resources and working capital, but also that having SEELS in the league of WiA will definitely help us reap more fruits of meaningful, collaborative partnership with social entrepreneurs and innovators through WiA’s network. As such, we all of Filipino migrants are very happy and honored to receive the award.”

In July 2011, WiA started its activities to support social entrepreneurs involved in the area of disaster recovery in Tohoku where the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami hit on March 11, 2011. Since then, WiA has awarded grants to five organizations so far. In addition, given the fact that extensive and long term support will be needed in Tohoku, WiA has started to accept new grant applications for social entrepreneurs who work in the following areas: healthcare, education, transportation, skill training, and town-building.

On February 18, WiA conducted the presentation session and final evaluation for four organizations that had passed the initial screening process, and has awarded grants to all of them (Visit its site at http://wia.stonesoup.jp/). WiA will provide financial and administrative support to SEELS which has been committed to English and early childhood education in Tohoku, in a comprehensive, long-term fashion.

About World in Asia (WiA)
WiA’s mission is to “develop the market for discovering, encouraging, fostering and connecting social entrepreneurs.” In doing so, WiA believes “that the highly developed technology and service industries in Japan’s ‘middle class society’ can be leveraged to solve the problems that the world will be facing in the coming years. At World in Asia, we aim to bring these emerging innovations in Japan to life through a dialogue with global citizens.”

WiA is committed to overcoming the barriers that have hindered collaboration among sectors, organizations and societies, creating broader, innovative agenda with social entrepreneurs, and building its Hybrid Value Chain (HVC) to enable the delivery of new goods, services and projects in line with such problem-solving skills by reducing the separation between for-profit and non-profit organizations.

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