To kick off the Economy session, our Words of Wisdom guest, Takashi Sawada, Representative Director of the convenience store chain FamilyMart, shared his recent experience leading FamilyMart’s “inclusive action” with employees and local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the 17,000 stores nationwide in Japan converted to a “new normal” that seized the opportunity to convert dead space in the stores no longer used by regular customers into mini-markets for local farmers to sell their goods.
Representative Director and President
NTT Docomo Ventures
CEO & Creative Director
The Human Miracle
The panel discussion was facilitated by OYWJ ambassador and Co-founder of World Road, Ibun Hirahara. She welcomed her personally selected panelists, Takayuki Inagawa, CEO of NTT DOCOMO Ventures , Eriko Suzuki, General Partner of Fresco Capital, and Kenji Kohashi, CEO of The Human Miracle.
When asked by Ibun if Eriko is seeing any shift from superficial CSR activity to true CSV or sustainable policy changes, Eriko commented that VCs (venture capitalists) that are focused on ESG investing are, in fact, seeing some positive changes in this sphere, especially the pursuit of carbon neutrality. Additionally, Eriko said that she was extremely excited about the Gen-Z and Millennial generations and their ability to adapt to change more quickly as SDG and COVID natives but, that she would like to see more focus on B-to-C business models that are sustainable at the core and offer business solutions directly to the consumers.
In building her segue towards the main topic of “sustainable business,” Ibun shared some of her thoughts and concerns surrounding the separation of profit from sustainability instead of the integration of the two.
Takayuki expanded on this by clarifying that NTT Docomo Ventures looks at not just profit but, also “strategic returns” that take social impact into consideration. He used Marie Kondo as an example of “business concept first.” She created a unique niche in the market and the money came later.
The session ended with a key message from Kenji on how businesses need to get back to original concepts that use the idea of Japanese “kokoro” to connect with consumers on a deeper, more meaningful level for more sustainable business.