Message from Dr.Ahmed and Dr.Terano

SDGs Entrepreneurship

Dr. Ashir AHMED
Dr. Rika Terano
SDGs entrepreneurship (written as「新興国アントレプレナーシップ」in Japanese) is a credited university-wide module for degree and graduate level students at Kyushu University, organized by Robert T. Huang Entrepreneurship Center (QREC) in partnership with Yunus & Shiiki Social Business Research Center (SBRC). The module aims to make students aware of prevalent social issues and help them develop an entrepreneurial thinking to solve these problems using the concept of social business. QREC encourages students to have an entrepreneurial mindset and SBRC disseminates theoretical and practical knowledge of social business, a philosophy pioneered by Dr. Muhammad Yunus (Founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize winner). The module helps students learn how to solve social issues with seven principles of social business and how social business is run autonomously and sustainably.  
The module has three parts: classroom learning as prior-sessions in Japan, on-site fieldwork in Thailand, and business idea briefing after coming back to Japan. To make the module a success, Dr. Ashir Ahmed and a lecturer from QREC are responsible for coordinating with SBRC. Professors and researchers from Kyushu University in Japan and the host university in Thailand, Yunus center AIT, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), cooperate with each other to teach the module.
As social business and the way it solves issues in the society get prominence, learning about social business becomes not limited to its basic knowledge but also involves understanding of the real issues in places where people suffer from poverty, poor societal and economic system, or environment problems caused by lack of people attention, policy implication, or serious concerns from developed countries. In Kyushu University, there are many passionate students who are interested in learning about social business as a solution toward solving social issues and want to become social entrepreneurs in future. In 2019, 27 students eager to have an opportunity to challenge the situation in the society and prepare an action plan with their own social business ideas enrolled in the module.
For classroom learning module in Japan, there is omnibus style of class learning to understand social business and the purpose of it, the way social entrepreneurs conduct the business, and how they contribute to the society. Experts in social business and public health share their insights related to social business with real situations observed in developing countries. Students then start looking at the underlying social issues. At the end of the sessions in Japan, every student sets a hypothesis of social issues in accordance with his/her own interest and major with what they have learned from their affiliated classes with their own faculty, class-room learning, or self-exploration. All students are then divided into five groups and asked to find solution to what they really consider a serious challenge in Thailand. The challenges are related to issues such as environment, traffic accidents, gender, education, and health.
After the students learn the concept of social business in classroom, they go to Thailand for on-site fieldwork.
The program in Thailand is designed such so as to allow students to experience the ground reality of communities. They visit Ko Kret, Pak Kret, and Klong Toey communities, universities such as Mahidol University and Thammasat University, Japan Embassy, Grin Green Bangkok from Berkeley International School, and National Innovation Agency where local start-up and venture companies get support in solving social issues. The students are guided to follow the actual steps of creating solution to social issues. The students then get to see some of their hypothesis of the social issues brought from Japan exist in real but not in the way they had thought. When the students see the gap between classroom or solely knowledge-based learning, and own experience in Thailand, the module starts having a great value for them and they start feeling the differences between their thoughts and reality in Thailand. They struggle to find solutions towards the issues by observing local people, asking about their situation, discussing it with their own group members and above all, considering the social issues as their own problems. They try to understand the reason behind the situation, and why they could not see it from outside the Thai society. The students get to be familiar with problem-solving business while visiting social entrepreneurs in Thailand and at the same time they go in the field to investigate social issues and find a solution for the vulnerable and poor in Thailand. After coming back from Thailand, the students make posters and present their business ideas. The five student groups participate in poster sessions and discuss their experiences with experts in social business.
After completing the course, all participants develop abilities to find a real issue, think of the solution, and get ready to become practitioners of social business. Hence, I can say that a student who solves social issues through SDGs entrepreneurship module has the ability to become a social business entrepreneur in future.
(Written by Dr. Rika TERANO)