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從社會學家到社會企業家

2012.02.06
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中文譯稿:林以涵/英文原稿:迫俊亮(Shunsuke Sako)

我將在這個專欄部落格裡分享關於社會企業的觀點,第一篇文章將簡單介紹一下我自己以及我目前就職的社會企業。

我生長於日本南邊九州島上最大的城市福岡,高中畢業後我便前往美國念大學。當時十八歲的我,即使還不是非常確定自己未來想從事何種工作,但在印度的志工經驗帶給我許多省思。

印度是我第一個拜訪的「發展中國家」,當時街上為數眾多的乞丐與流浪漢的景象,對我造成很大的衝擊,也讓我強烈覺得自己應該要為窮人做些什麼。我成為德蕾莎修女(Mother Teresa)在加爾各答垂死之家(the Kalighat Home for the Dying)的志工,提供醫療照護給病人。

但在醫院工作一個月後,我開始對這份工作產生懷疑。收容所只能照顧到一小部分健康問題最嚴重的人,然而當地卻仍還有數以千計的人,因為貧窮而遭遇各種健康以外的問題,像是無法接受教育、水質汙染、營養不良、或失業。我意識到自己身為一個志工的力量有限、能幫助到的人實在太少了,所以我決定回到學校去尋找能降低貧窮的替代方案。

我後來在加州大學洛杉磯分校攻讀社會學,當時的我,想要當一個能透過研究與教學啟發人的學者。為了成為一個很棒的社會學家,我廣泛地修習社會科學相關的課程—從政治學、經濟學、統計學、一直研讀到古典與現代哲學。

社會學是一門研究如何讓社會變得更好的學問,然而我在這領域學得越多,我越意識到一件事—學者提出的想法固然好,若不能被具體、正確地落實成行動也是枉然。也因此,我決定要成為一個能執行好點子的實踐者。「社會企業」的概念也在此時進入我的生活中,我了解到這就是我想努力的方向,而且很巧地,我在報紙上的一個小角落,發現了一間只有執行長、還沒有任何員工的新公司,它的名字叫做Motherhouse。

我馬上連絡並申請了Motherhouse的實習機會。在和當時只有25歲的公司執行長山口繪里子小姐面試的過程中,山口小姐告訴我她想要創造出一個屬於發展中國家的全球流行品牌,而我也立刻被這個創新的概念給打動。從UCLA畢業後,我回到東京,開始在Motherhouse工作,成為當時的創辦團隊成員之一。

在Motherhouse工作了半年後,我改加入三菱商事總部工作。當時的我認為,在一家大公司或小公司工作,各有其優缺點,若要了解自己比較適合哪一種型態的公司,最好的方式就是讓自己在大、小兩種類型的公司都工作過。決定離開Motherhouse的我,便是想要了解自己在像三菱這樣的大公司中可以做些什麼。

當時在三菱擔任分析師的我,負責為公司中年營收超過二十億美金的能源部門建立財務模型去評估相關投資。在三菱的工作經驗很有趣,薪水也很高,但我心中那股想透過商業力量來改善世界的夢想,卻仍持續發酵著。半年後,我辭掉在三菱的工作、回到Motherhouse,去追求並達到我的夢想。

在Motherhouse的這幾年,我管理過幾乎所有公司業務—從行銷、公關、銷售、會計、財務、到店面拓展,而公司每年的業績都比前一年成長至少一倍。目前Motherhouse在日本已經擁有七家店舖,2011年春天也在台灣設立了第一家海外分店,我目前常駐在台北,擔任全球行銷經理,負責台灣分店的業務、也繼續努力將Motherhouse擴展到更多地方。

Motherhouse是一個社會企業,透過製作與販售以孟加拉黃麻為原料的手提包,期望創造出一個能將發展中國家的資源做最佳運用的全球時尚品牌,也同時扭轉一般消費者對於發展中國家只能生產出廉價或劣質商品的印象。關於這間社會企業,我會在下一篇部落格文章中作更詳細地介紹。


From Sociologist To Social Entrepreneur

In this blog, I will write about “Social Enterprise”. As a brief introduction, let me introduce myself and the company I work as a global marketing manager.

In March 1985, I was born in Fukuoka city, the biggest city in Kyushu islands locate at the southern part of Japan. After graduating from a local high school, I went to the United States to study there, but I did not know what I want to do.

The first transformational experience for me is when I visited India when I was 18, the first time to visit so-called “developing country”. Seeing thousands of beggars and homeless people was totally a shocking experience, and I strongly felt that I should do something for those in poverty.

I worked at the hospice, the Kalighat Home for the Dying, founded by Mother Teresa in Kolkata as a volunteer staff. I worked to provide daily cares for patients there, but after working there for a month, I had a strong doubt about what I was doing there. Everyday I stepped outside of the hospice after work, I saw countless number of people suffered from poverty, but I could not do anything for them.

The hospice could only provide last-minute/baseline healthcare services to the most needed, which accounted for such a small proportion of the local poor. There were still thousands of poor people out of the hospice suffering from problems other than health, such as lack of education, contaminated water, malnutrition, or unemployment.

I was overwhelmed that there were too many people need help, but I did not know what to do for them. From my first encounter with poverty, I realized that what I can do as an individual volunteer is very limited. I went back to school to find an alternative way to deal with poverty.

At University of California, Los Angeles, I ended up studying to be a sociologist. For me at that time, to be a scholar and enlighten people from academic field seems a good idea. To be an effective sociologist, I studied almost all subjects in social sciences – from politics, economics, statistics, to ancient Greek and modern philosophy.

Sociology is a subject to study a way to make better society. However, as much I studied it, I realized that even a great idea created by a great scholar does not work if it is not practiced appropriately. And I found from a lot of cases that an idea, which seems excellent, failed because nobody practiced it or it was not practiced precisely.

To overcome this problem, I concluded that I should be the one who practices it precisely and effectively. As soon as I came up with the idea, I encountered with the concept of “Social Entrepreneurship”. I found that the concept is exactly what I want to do, and serendipitously, I also found a brand new social enterprise, with no employee yet but only a founding CEO, on the small corner of a newspaper. The company’s name is Motherhouse.

I took a contact with the company immediately and applied for internship. In the interview, Eriko Yamaguchi, 25 years old CEO at that time, told me about her dream to create a world-wide fashion brand from developing countries. The vision sounds really exciting and innovative for me. After graduating from UCLA, I went back to Tokyo and worked at Motherhouse full-time for half a year as one of the founding members.

After the six months, I joined Mitsubishi Corporation, the headquarter of the Mitsubishi conglomerate. The reason why I did not continue working with Motherhouse and joined Mitsubishi was because I wanted to know what I could do through working at a big company. In my opinion, whether a person works for a big or small company, there are both positive and negative sides. And the best way to find which type of company (big or small) is better for me is to have respective working experience with both.

My job at Mitsubishi was an analyst for their Energy Group (annual revenue above USD20 billion), making a financial model for energy related investments. Working at Mitsubishi was not bad. The work was interesting, and more than that, the salary was quite high. However, I quitted Mitsubishi in a half year and came back to Motherhouse to pursue and achieve my dream to change the world for the better through business.

At Motherhouse, I have been working as a manager for sales, marketing, promotion, accounting, finance, shop development…almost everything. And the sales of Motherhouse have almost doubled every year since I joined. I am now spearheading and directing our first foreign sales operation in Taiwan as a global marketing manager, currently residing in Taipei, trying to expand Motherhouse to the world.

Motherhouse is a fashion brand, which mainly produces and sells hand-bags, aiming to create a global brand through maximizing potentials in developing countries. Motherhouse aims to change the world for the better through changing the idea/mindsets of people toward “made in developing country” products from negative to positive. The goal of Motherhouse is “to create a global brand from developing country”. I will use the next blog entry to introduce this social enterprise in greater details.

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