TUFS Students Win Award at ‘Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2019’

January 16, 2020

On Friday the 22nd of November, the final pitch contest of the ‘Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2019’ was held at the United Nations University Main Campus (Tokyo), at which a project led by TUFS students MIHARA Naoto (School of International and Area Studies, African area studies/English language studies, fourth year) and TOKORO Nanami (School of International and Area Studies, East Asian area studies/Chinese language studies, fourth year) was chosen as one of the winners of the Japan competition.

The ‘Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2019’ is one of the two contests held as part of ‘Youth Asia-Pacific Co:Lab Japan 2019’, the very first ‘Youth Co:Lab’ event held in Japan. ‘Youth Co:Lab’ is a program that originates from the Asia-Pacific region, and was created by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the City Foundation to support youth innovation and enterprise. At the final pitch contest, the nine teams that passed the preliminaries present their business plans and ideas to a panel of judges.

Mihara and Tokoro submitted a project entitled ‘Inter-Generational House Sharing’, a project that promotes a home-share matching service that exceeds generational and familial ties. This project originated from Mihara’s own experiences sharing a residence with a single elderly person. It is a service that connects students on a budget with homeowners that have empty rooms in their homes due to a number of reasons such as children moving out or spouses passing away. The main aim of this project is to create communities through shared residences that exceed generational or familial ties. The increasing costs of higher education are an obstacle for many students, and so designing a lender-borrower relationship is a unique point of this project.

This project was awarded entry qualifications for the Youth Co:Lab Asia-Pacific Summit, which it will use to participate in the UNDP and City Foundation’s Acceleration Program (Springboard Program). In addition to this, this project was awarded the Community Award (WeWork Award), which enables the project team to utilize the WeWork offices for free.

【Interview – Thoughts on Winning】

  • Mihara Naoto
    This time we were able to really move forward with our project since the SoftBank Acceleration Program, but next time we will have the chance to connect with the world. I will continue to work hard.
  • Tokoro Nanami
    Considering it’s only been a few months since I first challenged myself to solve social problems through business, I feel very honored to receive this award. I want to work hard towards implementing this project, and aim for a world where people clear away their walls, hold hands and work towards solving problems together.
Tokoro (center-left) and Mihara (center-right)