It’s been about two years since I first came to Japan. When I arrived here for the first time, I was completely struck (as I think most people are). The country was so unique, the food so delicious, and the people so lovely. I had to come to launch the Hult Prize On Campus program in Japan. This program empowers students to host Hult Prize competition rounds at their home campus, but more importantly to give exposure to students about social entrepreneurship.
Students are at the heart of everything we do at the Hult Prize Foundation. They are our base and they are the ones which have created the Hult Prize movement. While interacting with students in Japan, the thing which immediately became clear to me was that they had no pathways to pursue a life and career of impact. It appeared to me that students felt they needed to pursue the traditional path: go to university, get an internship, join a top Japanese company (and there are many), and work their way up the corporate ladder for the next 50 years. There seemed to be a sense of hopelessness towards pursuing a different career or path.
I knew then that something had to change. I knew that Hult Prize could be an amazing platform for students to give social entrepreneurship a try without fear of failure. I knew how important this movement could be in Japan and committed myself to exposing as many students as possible to the Hult Prize. Over the last two years, working with Hiro Sano (Regional Director, Tokyo for Hult Prize), over 50 universities are now participating in the Hult Prize On Campus program in Japan – with thousands of students competing every year.
Students are a testament to this growth – without their dreams to create positive impact in society and their willingness to utilize this platform, this movement would not have been possible. This is driven by their curiosity to find an alternative path.
Today we host our inaugural Hult Prize Regional Summit in Tokyo and welcome over 200 students from around the globe. These students have chosen to compete in Japan because they believe there is opportunity here, just as I do. Japan and the student community here is vested in carving out a path towards impact, at home and in the global community. It is our responsibility to support them in which ever way we can. I have made my commitment to this community and I am excited to share that we will open a Hult Prize regional office in Tokyo. This office will focus on providing resources to social entrepreneurs from around the globe who believe that Japan is the place to grow their social enterprise. As the demand from students grows here in Japan, so does our commitment.
Good luck to all the students participating in the Hult Prize Regional Summit in Tokyo this weekend. I cannot wait to see how your social enterprise will solve the youth unemployment issue and create over 10000 jobs in the next 10 years.
We are very excited to support students in changing the world…starting right here from Japan!
Global Projects Director