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Change Starts Now

Posted on September 8, 2014

For a nation that once boasted the likes of Sony, Toyota and Mitsubishi as its entrepreneurial heralds, Japan’s entrepreneurial record in the new millennium is surprisingly sparse. Entrepreneurs in Japan have become the exception rather than the norm. There are a range of issues that impede entrepreneurial activity. Common problems faced by aspiring entrepreneurs include the lack of venture capital, labyrinthine government regulations, and the dominance of large companies. Yet for all these factors, it takes two hands to clap – you need both an environment conducive to startups as well as people who aspire to be entrepreneurs. Thankfully, I am one of them.

My name is Haruto Shou, founder and CEO of Teach the Next Generation. I am eager to make a difference in the field of education by dispatching talented and trained personnel to address issues confronting children and schools.The idea is to equip teachers with more than the skills and knowledge to teach, but also, with social and psychological skills that will better enable them to handle the diverse and complicated challenges faced by scholars at school. One cannot stress the extent of pressure faced by students and scholars in the educational system.

The education being offered in Japanese schools is behind the changing times, and issues involving classrooms and society are becoming diversified and complicated. So instead of hoping for the solution to emerge – and anticipating a change in the environment to promote entrepreneurship – I am leading the way. I am driving impact, myself!

I think people with leadership abilities who can offer solutions to various problems and who could be role models for children should be in classrooms. So the company selects, trains and dispatches people who are motivated and passionate about bringing change to Japanese education, into the classrooms.

The company has a connection to my personal story. When I was a junior high school student, I was bullied by classmates. I was saved by a teacher who saw the bullying and helped me to get through it. I think I was able to change myself thanks to him. I may have also deemed it (in my mind) to repay the favor by paying careful attention to students who were in situations similar to mine.

Given this history, when I came across a non-profit organisation Teach for America I was deeply inspired. I was greatly inspired by the activities of Teach For America, which was achieving through the involvement of society what I hoped to do through a school. I thought I must develop such an effort in Japan. So I did.

What is unique about Teach the Next Generation is that it sets out to reach children who are in “the most difficult circumstances,” including those suffering from classroom breakdowns or economic hardship. I don’t think we can realize our goal if we set our sights on (the elite),” who are the typical focus of traditional government policies. So we create change where the problem is. We aren’t trying to add to the market, we are creating our own.

I’ve learnt a couple of key points in my entrepreneurial journey: the challenges that we have faced / see give us a hint into the solutions that we need to create in our environments. Given this, given that entrepreneurs are purposed to create solutions…I ask, why wait another day?

Haruto Shou,

i am youngpreneur