Leaders September 2013

A Meaningful Contribution

Success of Books For Smiles programme drives new goals

We are delighted to report that, after a summer of book drives organised by BCCJ member firms, our Books For Smiles (BFS) social responsibility initiative has now raised a total of ¥1,611,942!

Launched in late 2012, BFS set out with an annual fundraising target of ¥600,000, to give a Japanese care-leaver access to higher education for one year.

Our running tally was given a boost on the evening of 27 June, when Ray Bremner OBE, chief executive of Unilever Japan and BCCJ Executive Committee member (currently serving on our Community Taskforce) held a BFS drinks evening at his family residence.

The event was attended by one of the care-leavers supported by the BFS programme, Tsukasa, who delivered a touching speech in English.

“I am trying very hard to keep up my education by working part-time during the day and taking classes at night. Your support means the world to me”, Tsukasa said.

As over 51 organisations—including the British Embassy Tokyo—have completed a book drive, or are about to begin mobilising the project, we are well on our way to being able to cover tuition fees for multiple care-leavers throughout the Tokyo area.

In addition, the project is expanding to include care-leavers living in welfare facilities affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

In November, member firm Walk Japan will lead a daytrip around Tokyo, Walk for Smiles, with all proceeds going to BFS.

In addition, the Grand Hyatt Tokyo has agreed to hire one of the care-leavers supported by the programme as an intern, beginning in September.

BCCJ Executive Committee member Yayoi Sogo has been instrumental in coordinating this landmark achievement.

Reminder: What is BFS?
The BFS programme invites firms of all sizes and across all industry sectors to support the professional development of Japan’s disadvantaged youth by donating books.

All proceeds from the sale of second-hand books are used to provide tuition fees for young people leaving welfare facilities in Japan. Our project partners are the NPO Bridge For Smile and Value Books.

More than 30,000 children and young adults reside in approximately 600 social welfare facilities across Japan. It is estimated that 60–90% are in care due to abuse by a parent or adult. Only a few of these young people are enrolled in tertiary education—some 20–30%, compared with the national average of 70–80%.

Many facilities have never produced a college graduate. The low rate of higher education leads to a vicious cycle of poverty and social disadvantage.

Over the past eight months, BFS has become a multi-stakeholder project that had a genuine impact for care-leavers such as Tsukasa.

As always, our success springs from the generosity of BCCJ member firms, committed to backing the local community in Japan. Thank you very much for your ongoing support.

With an additional ¥188,058, we could secure one year’s tuition for three care-leavers by the end of 2013. Can you or your firm donate books to help Japan’s care-leavers transition into vocational training and jobs?


Community Contribution Award
Has your firm or one you know implemented an exceptionally effective community initiative over the past 12 months? Why not submit a nomination for the 2013 British Business Awards (BBA) Community Contribution trophy?

The deadline is 18 October at 5pm.

Criteria for nominations
1. How has the firm identified projects that have the potential for future development, growth and sustainability?
2. How has the firm’s community engagement had a positive impact on society, the community or individuals?
3. How has the firm generated participation and engagement in the programme among its employees, suppliers and other stakeholders?
4. Explain how the firm plans to ensure the sustainability and long-term benefits of the programme.

The winner of this award, as well as the winners in five other categories will be announced on the evening of 1 November at this year’s BBA event.