Social Entrepreneurs of Japan's Disaster-Hit Areas

by WIT Vetted since 2016 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified
Replus exercise program at temporary housing
Replus exercise program at temporary housing

Daigo is a physical therapist, who used to work for a traditional nursing home in the Kanto region of Japan. When the Great Eastern Earthquake occurred, he traveled hours from home to come to Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture to volunteer to help elderly people affected by the disaster.

The relief activities became a turning point for him. An elderly woman was separated from her family to live in a tiny temporary housing on her own. Losing her motivations to go out to meet with people and run errands, she eventually developed disuse syndrome. One day she fell down, became bedridden, and passed away from pneumonia. Another elderly man became severely depressed while nursing his old wife, and committed suicide.

Experiencing these losses made Daigo to move to Ishinomaki and start Replus to prevent these unfortunate and unnecessary pains and losses of elderly people.

Replus is a for-profit organization that has been developing advanced programs for the elderly. Their goal is for the elderly to improve their health so they can become self-sufficient once again. For example, there are elders who graduate from Replus’ services and move on to their daily lives as self-sufficient individuals, while others also improve their health and give back to the organization by supporting the community and those in need of these rehabilitation services. At the core of Replus are the medical and nursing professionals who provide professional rehabilitation services, as well as the local residents and community members that provide continuous support.

WIT has supported Replus since 2015 in various ways. Since Replus’s team was mostly therapists and nursing-care experts, WIT connected them with many business professionals to help their management. One of them is Mr. Fujishima, a corporate executive and now CEO of Recruit Management Solutions Co., Ltd., whom we matched with Replus as their mentor. After a year of monthly mentorship, Mr. Fujishima became Replus’s board member.

WIT provided a grant to Replus to conduct an impact assessment (SROI) to assess the positive impact of their activities on their beneficiaries, and how it could save future expenses on nursing and medical care.

In 2017, WIT supported Replus’s fundraising to receive a two-year grant from Toyota Foundation to develop Replus’ new program, a home-visit service for the elderly whose families live far away from them. WIT facilitated a semi-annual team discussion for Replus’ team members to identify their core challenges and discuss solutions, including how to build a strong team and how to maintain the quality of their services as their programs expand geographically.


At WIT, we feel very blessed to support and work with such innovative and committed social entrepreneurs.

It is your generous support that has made our activities possible. Thank you so much!!


With heartfelt gratitude,

Mio Yamamoto and WIT Team


Mammaru Mom Iwate
Mammaru Mom Iwate's gathering for mothers

Dear our generous donors,

Seven years has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Yet, many social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders are working tirelessly for the people affected. 

Miyoko Sato, a founder and Executive Director of Mammaru Mom Iwate and one of the social entrepreneurs WIT supports, has hosted more than 450 gatherings for affected mothers and babies since 2011. The gatherings have become open and safe space for more than 4,000 pregnant women and new mothers, where they can interact with each other and ask professional midwives and nutritionists for advice. In remote rural areas where Mammaru Mom operates, it is not unusual for women to travel hours by car to see OBGYN doctors. Mammaru Mom is dedicated to creating an environment where mothers can enjoy their pregnancy and childbearing regardless of where they live.

Miyoko shares the reason why she continues her work even after seven years. In a Japanese interview article (, she says, "psychological damage is hard to heal. I don't think the disaster is over; we are still surrounded by elevated lands, vacant lots, and temporary housing. The earthquake further aggravated depopulation, and we have fewer OBGYNs now than pre-disaster. Our gatherings play an important role to connect mothers and experts like midwives."

WIT has supported Mammaru Mom through Cross-Border Learning Journey program and management support. We introduced them an accountant, who them helped them incorporate a charitable organization. Mammaru Mom also utilized WIT's organizational development program to bring in professional team coaches over the six months. The team coaching allowed Mammory Mom's team to have honest discussion and dialogue on their vision and activities, and improved their teamwork performance dramatically.

At WIT, we feel very blessed to support and work with such innovative and committed social entrepreneurs.

It is your generous support that has made our activities possible. Thank you so much!!


With heartfelt gratitude,

Mio Yamamoto and WIT Team

Children and mothers with Mammaru Mom Iwate
Children and mothers with Mammaru Mom Iwate


Field visit to Studio Oriori
Field visit to Studio Oriori

Dear all,

As the holiday season begins, we would like to express our sincere gratitude for your continuing support for our cause. 

In October 2017, twelve leaders from the United States and Japan participated in the Cross-Border Learning Journey hosted by WIT. The participants visited social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations in Fukushima and explored collaborative opportunities across different sectors and countries.

During the one-week Journey, participants from New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Tokyo were very much inspired by the time spent with the social entrepreneurs and local people, who are creating a sustainable and resilient civil society despite the tremendous adversity.

I hope you will enjoy the following wonderful story written by one of the participants and a TV anchor in Seattle, Lori Matsukawa:  A Tale of Three Towns

We hope to keep strengthening the mutually supportive and inspiring relationship, which emerged out of the Journey, to make the world a better place!

Wish you all happy holidays,


Field visit to Minamisoma Science Lab
Field visit to Minamisoma Science Lab
Field visit to Seed for Hope, an organic farm
Field visit to Seed for Hope, an organic farm


A women entrepreneur, creating jobs for evacuated
A women entrepreneur, creating jobs for evacuated

In only two weeks, Cross-Border Learning Journey 2017 will begin, and leaders from the US and Japan will meet with social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders in Fukushima, the prefecture heavily hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Even six years after the disaster, there still many people who have not returned home, and in some areas, the evacuation order has just lifted in the spring of 2017. There are still zones designated by the government as difficult for local residents to return due to radiation exposure.

Some chose to / were forced to leave their hometown, others chose to stay / cannot leave. I respect each one's choice, and my heart tries to empathize with these choices though that is a very tough thing to do.

Then there are social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders, who have dedicated their hearts and minds to working with and supporting local residents. I and WIT sincerely believe in their passion and potential and in the power of encounterment of people from diverse perspectives to better the world and co-create our future.

This year, we will have an engineer, TV anchor, entrepreneurs, professor, corporate executive, journalist and others to join the CBLJ in Fukushima. We all hope to learn from each other, get inspired, and take a step forward to make a difference. Please look forward to our updates.

We sincerely thank for all your suppport including contribution, spreading the word, and many other ways. We look forward to sharing this year's stories of the participanting individuals and organizations with you.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Mio and WIT Team

Fukushima's traditional silkware
US-Japan leaders will visit her in CBLJ
US-Japan leaders will visit her in CBLJ


Program Overview:

World in Tohoku (WIT) is now recruiting business professionals from the U.S. to join the Cross-Border Learning Journey (CBLJ) in Fukushima, Japan. This year's CBLJ will be held from October 11th ~ October 16th, where U.S. business professionals will convene with Japanese business professionals and social entrepreneurs to solve challenges that Fukushima Prefecture continues to face six years after the Great East Japan Earthquake. 

Participants will have an opportunity to go on a field visit to the coastal area of Fukushima to get a better understanding of the current recovery efforts, in addition to site visits of local social entrepreneurs across Fukushima. During the course of these 5 days, a diverse group of business professionals and entrepreneurs representing a range of industries will convene and engage in deep discussions, all in an effort to create long-term collaborations and solutions. WIT aims to grow, sustain, and accelerate these cross-border, cross-sector collaborations in the years to come.

For more information, please visit our website at:




The deadline to apply is July 15th, 2017. Please send your resume and cover letter explaining your interest in the program to WIT will reach out to those who qualify, and will be happy to answer any questions at that time.



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Organization Information


Location: Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo-to - Japan
Website: http:/​/​​
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Mio Yamamoto
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo-to Japan
$12,472 raised of $40,000 goal
113 donations
$27,528 to go
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