“Uniting the world for a better tomorrow”—this is the company mission. We at IC Net have a desire to make the world better through solving social issues. But when you work in different countries, you start to wonder what precisely are the social issues that need to be tackled.

We look around the world to see how the face of development is rapidly changing.  In Cambodia, we operate a music school for children. A scene that is unthinkable ten years ago is becoming commonplace, where parents are eager to work on development emotional intelligence for their children. In Bangladesh, a university student is chatting over a cup of coffee over 3 dollars, while a nearby rickshaw driver relaxes over a ten-cent tea cup.  In Kenya, a growing number of people are suffering from obesity and lifestyle-related diseases, and that is propelling a boom in Japanese green tea.

On the other hand, looking at Japan, regional depopulation is severe, and problems such as lack of human resources, financial resources, and industrial degradation are no different from the landscape we have seen in developing countries. Despite the grim picture, there are many companies in Japan that are very well-equipped, have excellent technology and that want to broaden their markets to overseas.

Among the 17 goals of the UN-designated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, there are fundamental goals such as “eradication of poverty,” but also goals focused on “decent work and economic growth,” which are relevant to the Japanese. The SDGs demonstrates that the world today has to tackle a myriad of challenges. Who will lead in solving social issues?  It is not uncommon for corporations to tackle social issues not only as their social responsibility, but also for the growth of its own business. It is not only the developing countries that need to put more effort towards achieving a sustainable world. Not only governments, but also companies and civil society should become the stewards of sustainable development.

For more than a quarter of a century, IC Net has been advising governments to improve developing countries mainly through Official Development Assistance. Recently, we have been engaged in regional innovation in Japan, overseas expansion of Japanese firms, support for social entrepreneurs, and training for Japanese high school students in this globalized world. While the world is rapidly changing, there is a limit to what can be achieved only with government development assistance. In order to stay true to the mission, we also have to change our mindset. We will work on activities to improve society by making use of the experience we have cultivated so far, and by forging partnerships and develop synergies with private companies and civil society.

Kenji Momota, President