1. What is EEN?
The Economic Empowerment Network (EEN) is a global network which connects those who are interested in income generating activities that can be started with available resources at hand, along with the information and people which will be useful for their economic activities. EEN provides you with information and technical advice on agribusiness development, entrepreneurship development, product development, value chain development, marketing strategies, and rural development approaches. At the same time, EEN also provides you with a global arena on the Internet where those who are connected with one another through the EEN network can share their experiences. Thus, EEN is a global learning network for economic empowerment. If you want to share something with EEN members, go to Economic Empowerment Network: EEN on Facebook.
2. How do we pronounce EEN?
EEN is pronounced “ee (ii)-en.” In Japanese, “ee (ii)” means “good”; “en” means “a bond which was decided by fate.” On the earth today, there are approximately 7 billion people. Out of those 7 billion, how many people can we meet in our lifetime? Having met you is a miracle because you are one of the 7 billion. So, I would like to cherish this precious encounter. That’s why I call it “EEN.” I hope that your access to the EEN website is a beginning of an EEN with me, and that it will continue for a long time.
3. EEN Mission Statement: Let’s BEAR!
The verb, “bear” has several meanings, such as to give birth, to generate something, to endure, and to support. The mission of EEN is to empower those who are trying to produce something with the resources available at hand. EEN provides information necessary for what people are trying to produce, which coincides with the meanings of the verb, “bear.” In addition, the term, “BEAR” as an abbreviation stands for “Be Empowered with Available Resources!” EEN is here to empower people who want to start something for economic empowerment with available resources at hand. Let’s BEAR!
4. About the Founder
Yasuko Ose (The Founder of EEN)
Welcome to the EEN website! I am delighted to launch the EEN website thanks to the support of a lot of warm-hearted people. I have been working as an international development practitioner, specializing in rural development, agribusiness, and entrepreneurship development. Aside from my professional work, I have decided to start my personal lifetime work, which are the EEN activities. Through the EEN website, I would like to provide useful information for you to Be Empowered with Available Resources. Let’s BEAR!
The Economic Empowerment Network (EEN) has long been my dream. “EEN” is pronounced “ee (ii)-en,” and means, in Japanese, “good relationship decided by fate.” I have wanted to start “something” that can contribute to society with my feelings of gratitude for what has been given by those whom I have met in my life.
I grew up in a very conservative Japanese family, raised to be an “obedient” daughter who helped my mother with the household chores. A strong belief was embedded deeply in my mindset that women had to do all the household chores, and that being a full-time housewife was the only role model for women. I had been plagued by this extremely conservative belief until my late 20’s. Due to this brainwashed perception, when I was a university student, I had no idea about career development.
A turning point came to me at the age of 28. One day, I found a want-ad in the newspaper which called for interpreters for the Asian Olympic Games in Hiroshima, Japan. I applied for the post, and got the job. I worked in the athletes’ village for one month, and it was a microcosm of the world with a variety of cultures, religions, and languages. What surprised me most was a huge economic gap between Japan and the other countries. Through working for the Asian Olympic Games, however, I came to convince myself that the human heart is universal in spite of differences in cultures, religions, languages, and economic standards. Thanks to this eye-opening experience, I began to feel that I would like to do something for developing countries.
The next year, I won a scholarship from the Rotary International Foundation. I studied international development and earned a Master’s Degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh in 1998. Since then, I have been working as an international development practitioner in the area of rural development with a focus on agribusiness and entrepreneurship development. My area of expertise has something to do with women’s economic empowerment, which in a large part is closely related to traditional women’s work, such as cooking and making handicrafts. Thanks to my ultra-conservative family, who believed that cooking and sewing were exclusively women’s work, I acquired a lot of skills in cooking and making handicrafts at home in my childhood. My personal background like that has led me to my current profession.
As an international development practitioner, I have visited a lot of rural areas in Japan and developing countries. I have met a lot of attractive people, and have observed different kinds of specialties made from local resources. Communicating with local people, I have learned a lot about how to revitalize a village and how to produce and sell competitive products. Through my professional experiences, I have collected a lot of good examples of rural development, and agribusiness and entrepreneurship development.
One day, I asked myself, “Who needs this tremendous amount of information that I have collected? It’s not me! It should be those in developing countries who provide support to economic empowerment activities or who are involved in or planning to start income-generating activities. I don’t want to die without passing all of my professional experiences and expertise on to those who can use it. While I breathe, I want to make sure that I do so. Otherwise, I could not die.” That’s why I have decided to establish EEN.
I hope that I can establish a good relationship (EEN = “ee (ii)-en”) with those who are reading this introduction, and that we can empower each other. Today is the beginning of a relationship with you. I hope that it will last for a long time.