University Students from Across Japan Come Together to Present Business Plans at the 8th U.S. Embassy-Keio SFC-TOMODACHI Entrepreneurship Seminar
The 8th U.S. Embassy-Keio SFC-TOMODACHI Entrepreneurship Seminar took place from September 4 to 7, 2018. Funded by The Boeing Company, this educational entrepreneurship program was founded to foster next generation leaders who aspire to reconstruct, revitalize, and develop the future of Japan in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Following the pre-seminars, which began in May 2018, fourteen teams consisting of 40 university students from all over Japan were selected to participate in the four-day seminar. The students came from various prefectures such as Miyagi, Fukushima, Niigata, Tokyo, Osaka, and Miyazaki. During the seminar, the students positively influenced one another and built connections with peers they would not otherwise have met in their home communities. In addition, with support from over twenty professional mentors, the students shared their own passions, experiences, and knowledge with one another, all of which led to further personal growth.
On the last day of the program, a mid-way review was held where the groups presented the business plans they developed over the four-day seminar. The mid-way review committee selected six teams to proceed to the final review, scheduled to be held on November 23, 2018. The six teams will continue to polish their business plans and will present their ideas at the final review session. Additionally, through professional mentoring, a strong network will continue to be built for the groups that will not proceed to the final review.
The participants reflected on this unique experience not usually available to university students, with one student commenting, “the highlight of the these four days was that it was my first time since I became a university student where I was able to build a relationship with a team where we could share our ideas freely and easily.” Another said, “during the seminar, I met many adults who were pursuing what they had hoped to do. Seeing them made me want to make my own dreams come true, and believe I will find something interesting to do upon deepening my own interests.”
Through self-reflection, and continuing to think about how to positively influence others, the students took their first steps as members of the TOMODACHI Generation, to build a new society with new perspectives unhindered by stereotypes.