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Hitachi’s Young Entrepreneur Award Targets Poor in America

RP Siegel | Friday February 12th, 2010 | 0 Comments

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The Hitachi Foundation recently announced that it is accepting applications for the Yoshiyama Award, which seeks young entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 29 that are “focusing on for-profit businesses that are intentional about making a difference in American society in addressing poverty.”

Applicants must be “operating viable businesses that create jobs, supply goods or services, or use internal management practices that offer low-wealth individuals in America a leg up.”

“We are a foundation focused on America,” says Foundation CEO Barbara Dyer.  “While there are critical challenges around the globe, we have our share right in our own back yard.  The fast-growing field of social entrepreneurship has shown us the power of innovation in addressing global poverty and environmental degradation.  We believe that there are compelling problems here and hope to shine a spotlight on the young entrepreneurs that are combining social innovation and sound business practices to address them.”

Six winners will receive cash prizes of up to $50,000 over two years, as well as access to technical resources, and a peer learning community. The Foundation hopes to capture the stories of these inspiring young business leaders working to ameliorate poverty. Dyer refers to these entrepreneurs as “a missing piece in the larger interest in social entrepreneurship” that is worthy of targeted support and encouragement.

The award is named after former Hitachi Chairman Emeritus Hirokichi Yoshiyama (1911-2007) who once said, “I believe that each of us must take the initiative in addressing society’s problems as if they were our own individual concerns. If we do, we can surmount today’s difficulties and create a brighter world for people everywhere.”

Going back to 1988, the Yoshiyama Award focused on recognizing high school seniors for their community service and broader social change efforts, such as bringing gender equity to sports, or rallying for free transportation to school for thousands of low-income students. The newly revamped program, which was redesigned in 2009, still focuses on young people–albeit a little older than before–and instead of only looking back at their accomplishments, it now also looks forward to their aspirations and goals.

The Foundation will accept applications from non-profits as well, but only if they have a revenue model that does not primarily depend on grants and donations.

The deadline for applications is March 22 and you’ll find application information here.

RP Siegel is the Executive Director of the Cool Rochester program and the co-author, with Roger Saillant of the acclaimed sustainability thriller, Vapor Trails.


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