Spotlight Exclusives

The Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program: Spurring Business Ingenuity to Create Sustainable Solutions, By Barbara Dyer, President & CEO, The Hitachi Foundation

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Many distinguished voices have weighed in through this forum to share ideas for ameliorating poverty. Many more good ideas are being conceived at this very moment, not only among policy, community and business leaders, but among everyday people encountering challenges in their own communities and choosing to take action.

At The Hitachi Foundation, we focus on the role of business in creating tangible opportunities to move people in America out of poverty. We believe business ingenuity can and must play a pivotal role in providing sustainable solutions to this issue. A core component of our work is to uncover and spread models for integrating business action with societal wellbeing. Our new Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program is fundamentally a means of discovering and nurturing business leaders who, through their products, services and/or management structures, are effectively helping people to lift themselves out of poverty.

In recent years, the concept of social entrepreneurship has come to life through the powerful stories of people whose innovations have tangibly addressed environmental and social challenges. We۪ve been inspired by the emergence of this new breed of social-benefit enterprise and we hope to contribute to its development by shining a spotlight on people in places that may be otherwise overlooked. There are too few profiles of entrepreneurs operating viable for-profit businesses that are dedicated to addressing poverty on our shores. We want to fill that gap and we want to help equip these young leaders to succeed.

The Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program will recognize the ingenuity, promise and unique perspective of young people; the program is open to entrepreneurs ages 18-29 who are using innovative products or practices to help move people out of poverty and into the mainstream of American society. Candidates for the prize must be operating viable businesses that create jobs, supply goods or services, or use internal management practices that provide low-wealth individuals in America a leg up. Successful applicants will receive a cash prize of up to $50,000 over two years, technical resources to strengthen their business and mentorship opportunities through our program partner Investors۪ Circle.

This is a great opportunity for a young entrepreneurup to six will be honored. It is also an opportunity for us to learn what it takes to run a financially sustainable business that gives a boost to people who feel stuck in place. Ultimately, we hope their stories will help to fill a gap in the field of social innovation by bringing to life bold and innovative business models that address poverty in America.

But we need help searching. That is why we encourage Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity readers to share this information with those you may know who would be strong candidates.

For further information, please visit The first round application deadline is March 22.

A few highlights of the program include:

  • The entrepreneur must have established his or her business with the expressed dual purpose of operating a successful business and accelerating upward economic mobility for low-wealth individuals in America;
  • He or she must be at least 18 years old, and must have been 29 years old or younger when the business began generating revenue;
  • The business must be 1-5 years old and must have been generating revenue for at least the past 12 months;
  • The award is open to businesses organized as “for profit” or “nonprofit,” but must depend primarily on an earned-income revenue model.

Thank you for joining in the search for the Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs. Together, we can help those in need by harnessing business ingenuity to provide sustainable solutions.

Barbara Dyer is President & CEO of The Hitachi Foundation

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