Small Business

EEN_characterIn this section, I would like to introduce small businesses that have impressed me in terms of creativity and effective utilization of local resources. Speaking of entrepreneurship development, people tend to say, “We don’t have enough money or resources.” But I have found a lot of good examples of small businesses which do not require large investments and do take full advantage of local resources. I have always been looking for interesting examples which correspond to the concepts of “From Trash To Cash” and “Our Village Our Products (OVOP),” symbolizing local characteristics. The examples that I have found are full of creativity. Amazing! So, let me share some with you. I hope that these examples will give you some hints to take action on small business development.

1. Our Village Our Products (OVOP)

Your village must be full of valuable resources! With a little bit of creativity, those resources will be turned into wonderful products. Let’s see what products are popping up in the world!

Gifts from the Forest

Umaji Village, which is located in Kochi Prefecture, Japan, used to flourish with forestry. The older generations planted a lot of trees for their children and grandchildren. At present approximately 96% of the village is covered with forests. Forestry management is important in order to preserve the natural environment.

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Optimum Utilization of Wheat Crackers

In the northern part of Japan, there is a town called Nambu. One of the specialties of the region is Nambu Sembei or wheat crackers. The crackers are made of wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and water. They taste simple, but they are delicious. Local people have enjoyed the crackers for a long time in various ways. They eat them as a snack during a break while they do agricultural work, or cut them into pieces and put them into soup, which is called Sembei Jiru. But is that all there is for the local people to do with Nambu Sembei?

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2. Green Jobs

Climate change and the excessive use of scarce resources have led to the term, “green jobs,” which means environmentally friendly jobs. Let’s find out how “green” the jobs are!

Cooking Clean and Green

Making corncob charcoal
Corn or maize is one of the most popular grain products in the world. I guess that in your country there are a lot of corn fields. What do corn farmers do with corn in your country? Do they produce a lot and sell the corn in bulk to wholesalers? Or do some of them process corn into powder and sell the value-added product to private companies?

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Don’t Throw Away Banana Peels!

Mr. Abraham Akilit, who used to work for the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) of the Philippines, started organic farming and agro-processing at home after his retirement. He constructed a small processing facility and purchased the machinery and equipment he needed with the money that he had saved for the purpose of doing something good for the environment after his retirement.

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Banana Leave Artists from Laos

Look! What are the two women making? They are making religious ornaments which are used for Buddhist ceremonies in Laos. They are made of banana leaves.

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3. Not Just Re-cycling But Up-cycling

Making a product from waste material is called RE-cycling. But if the product looks too nice to guess the original material, it’s because the waste material has been upgraded. This process is called UP-cycling. Let’s see how waste materials have been UP-cycled!

Japanese Kimono is Reincarnated!

Hair Accessories
In Kyoto, which is the ancient capital of Japan, there are a lot of temples and shrines. This area has attracted a lot of tourists both from in and out of Japan. Japanese people used to wear kimono in their daily life. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Westernization of their lifestyles rapidly spread throughout Japan. Due to the influence of Western culture, more people came to wear Western clothes, and fewer people chose kimono.

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Let’s “UP-cycle” Garbage into Beautiful Products!

Ms. Editha C. Santiago
In 1997, Ms. Editha C. Santiago, an energetic woman, who was conscious of environmental issues and women’s empowerment, launched an organization called KILUS Foundation in Ugon, Pasig City, Philippines. Prior to the establishment of the foundation, she had been involved in the “clean and green” program with about 20 women in the community. The program was implemented by the local government, where her husband used to work. In the program, she headed an informal group of 20 women, and did cleaning in the community, collecting garbage, plastic bottles, cans, and old newspapers.

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Ethical Bags from Kenya

Look at this bag! Guess where it is from. It was sold at a department store in Tokyo, but it was made in Kenya. The colorful small triangular frills generate an exotic atmosphere. Those frills are made of traditional African women’s dresses which are not used any more.

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What to Do with Old Magazines and Newspapers?

Necklaces
In 2008, 10 female members of a multi-purpose cooperative with a membership of about 1,600 in Valenzuela, which is located in the suburbs of Manila, Philippines, started to make rosaries out of plastic beads. A rosary is a chain of beads with a cross at the center. Catholics use rosaries, grasping them around their wrists when they pray. Those 10 female members used to make rosaries only for themselves, not to sell.

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