Initiative – entrepreneurs in Tohoku

There’s still a lot of gloom-and-doom, finger-pointing and anxiety-spreading “news” out there (some of it on this very blog no less), but I’m getting tired of that. Aren’t you? What I find interesting these days is initiatives like this one.

Japan’s major convenience store operator Family Mart is this month launching a newly-developed fleet of mobile convenience store trucks to provide services across the northeast Tohoku region.

With their bright neon lights and open-all-hours policy, convenience stores – known as “konbini” in Japan – have long been a key fixture in Japanese communities, both rural and urban.

In the aftermath of the March 11 disaster, a number of major Japanese convenience store operators toured the region in makeshift trucks to provide essentials to displaced victims.

However, the new Family Mart mobile trucks are a specifically designed project which the company was planning even before the March 11 disaster, with a view to gaining access to the most remote regions in the country.

via Shops-on-wheels to launch across tsunami-hit Japan – Telegraph.

Then there’s “social entrepreneurs”. Say, what? The Nikkei explains:

Social entrepreneurs have been offering assistance to areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and in doing so, boosting their profiles and business opportunities.

Social entrepreneurs …  are often heads of nonprofit organizations or company presidents committed to addressing social issues such as community building, welfare and education. They also try to turn their undertakings into viable business operations through investment or funding from individuals or organizations.

Social entrepreneur Takashi Tachibana, left, has created a business model to help revive a local fishing industry in disaster-hit Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture.

Once such entrepreneur, 42-year-old Takashi Tachibana, has drawn up a plan to revive the fishing industry in Ogatsucho in the Miyagi Prefecture city of Ishinomaki.

He is looking to set up OH! Guts!, a limited liability company of local fisherman in the area. At a meeting to discuss the establishment of the firm on Aug. 10, Tachibana said: “Ten local fishermen will set up a company. We want to solicit financial support from 50,000 people outside of this town.”

Tachibana has been running a food business since leaving his job with Itochu Corp. (8001), a trading house. While volunteering in the stricken area he met Hiromitsu Ito, a local fisherman. Tachibana says he was drawn to Ito’s “passion to rebuild the town.”

The new company will farm, process and sell sea produce such as oysters and hoya (sea squirts). It aims to boost profit margins for local fishermen by cutting out intermediary distributors. It is seeking a contribution of 10,000 yen from each backer. “I want to rebuild an economically independent community led by the private sector,” Tachibana says.

1-coin (500 yen) blood tests

A while back, a taxi company came up with the “1-coin taxi” meaning 500 yen as the their taxi fare starting point. Most other taxi companies were 600 yen or higher. (The other taxi companies didn’t like the competition – “Hey! Us taxi companies are supposed to stick together!” – and lo and behold, the 500-yen taxi company found itself the target of health-and-safety officials who claimed the drivers weren’t getting enough rest between shifts, driving further than their allotted distances (man! you wouldn’t believe the regulations in the taxi business), yada-yada-yada, and a few months later the 500-yen taxi fare disappeared. “The customer is king!” Yeah. Right.

Well now we have a 500-yen blood analysis (not sure what you get for your money: “we checked it, and yup! It’s blood, all right!”) and then 500-yen health checkups.

Takashi Kawazoe is a nurse-turned social entrepreneur who established Carepro, a company that performs simple medical checks on blood samples for 500 yen. Because the service does not require electricity and generates results quickly, the company has received a number of requests from medical doctors working in disaster-hit areas. The 28-year-old sees huge potential for Carepro.

Kawazoe hit upon an idea for incorporating 500-yen checkups into home nursing care services.

via Disaster Boosts Presence of Social Entrepreneurs | Nikkei


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