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Grameen Creative Lab @ Kyushu University

The Grameen Creative Lab@Kyushu University, headed by Prof. Masaharu Okada, was established in March 2010 with the goal to proactively carry out education, research, and incubation of social business in collaboration with the Grameen family, Japanese companies, NPOs/NGOs, universities, and governments. GCL@Kyushu University is committed to providing knowledge and facilitating the social business dialogue between different entities in order to benefit society in a positive way.

About Kyushu University

Kyushu University is one of the national universities in Japan. In the year 2009 it carried out 611 collaborative research projects with companies. Kyushu University collaborates with Grameen Family in Bangladesh and this collaboration aims to utilize the university’s knowledge and strategic position on the Asian continent. In 2007 Kyushu University and Grameen Communications jointly carried out a project towards the computerization of microcredit served by Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. To find out more about Kyushu University, visit their website.

What happened so far?

GCL@Kyushu Training Week

In May 2010 Kyushu University received intense training during a training week conducted by the GCL, which prepared and enabled them to independently promote social business in Japan. During this week, a team of six professors of different fields and selected faculty members and students learned about many social business examples. Moreover, they received intensive training, which prepared them to jointly organize an open Social Business Lab during this week, with more than 70 participants.

Social Business Labs

Several Social Business Labs already took place within the scope of the GCL@Kyushu University initiative since May 2010. During these events a large number of individuals coming from different fields such as government, business & NGO sector, were exposed to the idea of social business, and exchanged their ideas for social business initiatives. Speeches about social business were held by representatives of Kyushu University and of The Grameen Creative Lab. Q&A sessions also took place, which helped participants understand the concept better.

GCL@Kyushu University plans to hold more Social Business Labs and many other activities in the future. They opened a Grameen Creative House in April 2011, a place where students receive advice and support and where they can meet in order to exchange social business ideas.

Grameen Yukiguni Maitake joint venture

As one of the outcomes of the training week and the results of the workshop sessions, GCL@Kyushu University signed a joint venture agreement in October 2010 with Yukiguni Maitake, a leading Japanese agro-company, and the Grameen Krishi Foundation, in order to form Grameen Yukiguni Maitake Ltd. This joint venture operates as a social business and has the goal to produce high quality mung beans in Bangladesh for both domestic consumption and export to Japan. Check out this article for more info.

Japan Tour 2010

In addition, GCL and GCL@Kyushu jointly organized the Japan Tour of Prof. Yunus in July 2010. During this exciting ten day trip, we had many highlights including a meeting with the Royal Family, a meeting with Prime Minister Kan, the launch of the Grameen Uniqlo joint venture, and many more highlights. Read about all of them in our Japan tour diary.


Grameen Technology Lab

But GCL@Kyushu is not the only activity with Kyushu University and the Grameen family. The Grameen Technology Lab (GTL) was established in December 2010 as a Japanese foundation, which collaborates with the GCL@Kyushu University initiative with the goal to jointly promote social business in Asia. The mission of GTL is to utilize Japanese technology from various disciplines to support governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as corporations that promote social business in Japan. GTL also supports joint ventures of the Grameen family, it functions as an incubator for social business ideas, and acts as a consultancy and a networking platform.

Japan Tour and Social Business Forum Asia 2011

As in 2010, GCL@Kyushu organized a very successful trip around Japan with Prof. Yunus and GCL. The visit included high level meetings with politicians and business leaders as well as interaction with the public. The highlight of the week, however, was the first Social Business Forum Asia, organized by GCL@Kyushu, which Prof. Yunus attended. In workshops, panel discussions and a public symposium hundreds of participants were able to learn about social business and even to design some ideas of their own. For a more detailed report of what happened read our Diary or check out this insider perspective from 17 year old Samuel Ching from Singapore!

The Yunus & Shiiki Research Center

The research center, announced by Prof. Masaharu Okada, director of GCL@Kyushu, is aimed at facilitating research projects on social business. It will raise the concept’s profile and add to the already significant academic achievements at Kyushu University.

The center was made possible by the support of Mr. Shiiki, a Japanese businessman.

Social Business City Fukuoka

Following the successful model of Wiesbaden and a result of the efforts of GCL@Kyushu, the Mayor of Fukuoka City and Prof. Yunus jointly signed a declaration that Fukuoka will officially become the second Social Business City in the world. The objective of the strategic urban development concept is to equip cities with the necessary networks, competence and infrastructure to funnel creative urban energy into overcoming social challenges through social business solutions.

Naturally all activities are done keeping in mind one of the principles of social business- “Do it with joy”!

For more information about GCL@Kyushu University, visit the initiative’s website 

Learn more about our other university cooperations by clicking on the following links:

GCL@ National University of Singapore

Y7Y Design - Istituto Europeo di Design

Social Business Chair at the European Business School