Creating business where “aspiration” and “will” can shine
Developing business that leads to solving social challenges in emerging economies
GEMSTONE has been supporting business development and execution in emerging economies as our core business. It has also been providing consulting, coaching, one-on-one mentoring, and other services on a case-by-case basis to support building business as well as organizations.
We are currently engaged in largely two activities. One is promoting libraries and supporting expansion of library business in Myanmar. We work with a Japanese company specialized in operating libraries to develop businesses globally. We provide support beyond general consulting services, and cover from the business planning and conceptualization stage, through local needs and business environment researches, building public-private partnerships, finding and building relationships with local partners, to the business execution stage. Through promoting libraries, we are aiming at cultivating local children's capabilities to think on their own, which will ultimately lead to build a better future for Myanmar. To this end, we have been working closely with the client company.
The other business of ours is "Co-Pro, Social Venture Co-creation Program" in Emerging Economies. We are planning and operating programs where teams of Japanese professionals get engaged in solving business challenges of local social ventures in Indonesia for three months. Under this program, the Japanese participants work remotely and attend on-line meetings, as well as travel to the local sites in Asia twice to participate in the management of the business and operations. This will help in solving business challenges faced by social entrepreneurs in emerging economies, while helping Japanese participants to brush up their own potential and facilitating them to live the life they truly aspire.
In my previous company which I co-founded, I was also involved in business development that contributed to solving social challenges in emerging economies. However, with the establishment of GEMSTONE, I have changed my "being" or leadership style in a major way. I used to run my business more like a business strategy consultant, for example, I would conduct market research, do market analysis, and create a draft of an ideal business strategy to respond to my client's request for start-up business. This general and common style approach is not bad at all. I thought, however, business is often built with the leaders' "aspiration" and "will", and therefore, a successful business would need not only a sound logic but also an emotional side built into the business. I personally hope such a business proves to be more successful. Based on this notion, I began focusing on the "aspiration" side of my clients, by asking questions, before addressing the strategic side of business, "why do you want to do the business?", and "How can the business change the life of the business owner and society?"
What I have realized by changing my business approach is that, if we focus on the cherished "aspiration" in business development, people get more livelily motivated to engage in business and the business becomes sustainable, and as a result, a better outcome is produced. I myself have been transformed, and feel that "my whole-self" close to 100% of my potential is mobilized now. In any business, particularly when one belongs to an organization, it is very difficult to use "100% of oneself". In my new business, I feel for the first time I am able to work to the best of my ability. With this joyful feeling, I am doing my job.
I encountered a life-changing theme at ICU
My study at ICU was focused on international development. My formative experience comes from the days I spent in Pakistan when I was 6 to 8 years' old. My father was a governmental researcher on Pakistan and most of the people we met there were social elites like the royal family. Of course, the elites were living very comfortably and were very kind to us. On the other hand, on the curbs of the streets, children of my age were sitting and begging with an empty lifeless look. The sight was etched into my childhood memories along with an unsettling feeling.
I was torn between going to a national university and ICU. I thought about studying the Pakistan's official language, Urdu, at a national university. However, I felt resistance to be focusing my specialty area so narrowly at an early stage of my life, and decided to go to ICU where I could explore a wider world through liberal arts education. I studied at the then Division of International Studies, and was most keen on learning about the education field among all international development fields. My research theme was "non-formal education in developing countries", which was about how children who were out of the public school system could receive an education, for example. I chose this theme inspired by Dr. Akihiro Chiba (former ICU professor), who exerted himself in promoting literacy for developing countries at UNESCO. I felt in confidence, "This is exactly what I wanted to study." What I studied there is directly related to what I do now. The encounter with this study theme was a life-changing event that helped shape the direction of my life.
While I was studying at ICU, I experienced studying overseas in real settings, including a short period of study in Canada in my 1st year and an excursion trip to Philippines to research on educational system in villages as a part of a course work in my 2nd year. I also planned and put together a study tour to Cambodia and participated in mobile library operations there as interns. I had set a theme for every long holiday to travel overseas.
While I took the initiative to travel overseas, the ICU's environment where we could pursue themes we got interested in and the colleagues I met with at ICU had a great impact on me. We had heated discussions on issues in Pakistan, and passionately exchanged opinions on educational challenges in emerging economies. These types of friends whom I had never met before provided me with plentiful stimulation, which enabled me to challenge many different activities. I was also active in extra-curricular activities. I was a member of Executive Committee of the ICU festival and a few other groups, and founded "Runners." "Runners" is a running club, which has survived these 19 years and now is much more active than back then. In my line of work, I often use "Life Curve" graphs that illustrate ups and downs of life. My curve hits the highest point in my university years. I remember I experienced good as well as bad. Down moments and failures were as frequent as great moments. Including all of these experiences, I had a very happy university life.
To live a life of my choice
The best aspect of ICU's learning environment is the one where diversity is respected. ICU has the name "International" at the top of its name. However, we were never demanded to be international, and some students were not very interested to be "International". We were never be discouraged to ask questions. In some organizations and environments, asking questions and exploring them are at times not welcomed. The diverse environment at ICU where we were encouraged to pursue our potential and keep asking questions is one of the most powerful aspects of the university.
I would strongly ask students who are learning or hoping to learn in this environment to think of the life they would really like to live. They should be always conscious about what will empower them to live their aspired life and what kinds of people they would like to be surrounded by to achieve happiness.
It is my impression that ICU students tend to be motivated to live their aspired lives during and after the university years. When we are in contact with those self-motivated people, we are reassured that what we are doing is right and become even more motivated. The ICU alumni are in various occupations and many are playing active roles overseas. However, I sense from ICU alumni an attitude of, "wherever I am, I am I," in a good way. They also do not judge people by their titles and with prejudice. With them, I personally feel easier to get along with as equals.
It is important to find themes to learn and directions to pursue through the diverse experience of our university days. For me, the theme and the direction was international development. I would also like you to learn from "doing" or experience and through the senses, asking yourselves, "Why am I attracted to it?" or "In what moments do I feel my life is enriched?" You would feel "burning passion" or "urgency to move and act". Those feeling will become the axis for your future life and serve as a fuel to help you overcome future difficulties. Smart students tend to use their brain, but information that your intuition can tell you is precious. I would recommend you to listen to your heart when you are not sure what to do.
Hideki FukamachiCEO, GEMSTONE Inc. / Business Producer and Management Coach
2003 B.A. in Arts and Sciences (International Relations)
He lived in Pakistan in his early childhood. After graduating from ICU, he was involved in new business development in North America, was stationed in the U.S. and worked on corporate planning, M&A, etc. at Yanmar Co., Ltd. After obtaining an MBA at Oxford University in England and completing JETRO's Institute of Developing Economies Advanced School, he started his career as business development producer and coach, focusing on business with social impact. In 2015, he co-founded Orinus Partners Ltd., and in 2017 changed to GEMSTONE when he decided to expand its business scope and changed the management structure.