Whole Earth Fukushima team at WIT Learning Journey
Yuki Wada, Founder and Executive Director of Whole Earth Nature School Fukushima and WIT Entrepreneur since 2013, loves and has lived with nature since his childhood. When he was in college, he travelled around the world to explore his future. Then an adventure living in a desert island of Australia opened his eyes. He decided to create a place in his homeland Fukushima where people learn how to live with the nature. To gain more experience, he started working a nation-wide nonprofit called Whole Earth Nature School.
Fast forward, in 2011, the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake hit Fukushima heavily. Yuki immediately came back to Fukushima to establish a Fukushima branch of the Whole Earth Nature School. Since then, Yuki and his team has hosted hundreds of nature camps for disaster-affected children, who couldn’t go and play outside due to the nuclear disaster and damage from the earthquake and tsunami. Whole Earth Fukushima also train college students and young professionals to be environmental educational leaders. Their headquarters are located in the far west part of Fukushima, by a beautiful Inawashiro Lake.
Mio and another co-founder of WIT first met with Yuki in 2012, when she visited Fukushima to meet with local social entrepreneurs. Having felt Yuki and his activity’s potential, Whole Earth Fukushima was selected to become WIT Entrepreneur in 2013. WIT matched Whole Earth Fukushima with a WIT Accelerator, Yuko Watanabe from NTT Docomo, for mentorship.
“The programs WIT hosts, Learning Journeys, and the way WIT and WIT Accelerators work with us, social entrepreneurs, are quite unique. Especially in the early days of the Fukushima school, I often felt very lonely, with no one to consult in the local community. The monthly meetings with WIT Accelerator and meeting with business persons and peer entrepreneurs in Learning Journeys saved me. I was so happy with their sincere compassion that I could cry.”
In addition to nurturing supportive and collaborative community with WIT Entrepreneurs and Accelerators (professionals from diverse fields), WIT also supported Whole Earth Fukushima’s branding and marketing. WIT provided funding to renew their website. Funding indirect expenses like marketing, instead of direct programs, is still rare in the philanthropy scene in Japan; however, we saw strengthening their branding will push their impact to the next level. Thanks to the beautiful website designed by YUKAFUMI, Whole Earth Fukushima now receives more inquiries from companies and local government, which has resulted in more program partners to offer nature experience for more children in need.
Yuki is now facing new set of challenges as entrepreneur as Whole Earth Fukushima grow bigger. He will participate in the two-day WIT Learning Journey on January 5-6th, 2019, to discuss his challenges and opportunities with business persons from diverse backgrounds. I truly hope that Yuki will gain good insights from other participants, and vice versa.
Nature camp hosted by Whole Earth Fukushima
WIT Learning Journey with Whole Earth Fukushima