Mercy Corps is working with Peace Winds Japan & PlaNet Finance Japan to help affected communities recover emotionally, restart businesses & regain lost jobs. Although our emergency response work - to distribute relief items & vouchers to survivors to purchase essentials, provide bus service & mobile shops to communities, & help young people recover from the trauma & resume their normal lives - is complete, there is still plenty of work to do to restore businesses & strengthen communities.
Shortly after the triple disaster in Japan's Tohoku region, Mercy Corps & PlanNet Finance Japan studied the impact of the disasters' impact on small businesses. Of those small businesses that were destroyed, over 70% were unable to access financial resources to restart their businesses. Government business recovery programs have focused on large industries. Small businesses, which are cumulatively the largest employers in Tohoku, have faced challenges in accessing the capital needed to recover.
With that assessment, Mercy Corps & PlaNet Finance Japan entered into a unique partnership with a local bank to support small business recovery along the Sanriku Coast. We offer several programs to local entrepreneurs including: Start-up grants, Re-employment grants, Loan Interest Subsidies, & Disabilities Accessibility Grants. We estimate that over 500 jobs have been created or supported by the program so far. Other tsunami-impacted locations are being investigated for inclusion in the program.
In the longer term, we aim to continue to help affected families rebuild their lives through economic recovery. We will continue to provide equipment and funds to quickly rebuild businesses in four coastal communities of Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures (Minamisanriku, Kesennuma, Rikuzentakata and Ofunato). Mercy Corps and Planet Finance Japan are expanding the project in the tsunami-affected area helping to revitalize even more communities including Minamisoma.