So far, we covered the topics of sustainable development goals and the concept of social entrepreneurship and social businesses. In this context, I would like to conclude by examining the current state in Japan, and the research and engagements that are needed in the future.
In the following paragraph, I will introduce the results of an online survey that I entrusted Rakuten Insight to conduct in Japan from November 22 to November 27, where 5,000 valid answer samples were collected (7,016 responses were collected in total out of the 66,636 survey forms that were sent out (10.52% collection rate)) (samples selected to accurately reflect the population proportion in terms of gender, age, and residing prefecture).
First of all, only 16.4% of respondents even knew of the term "social business," so we used the term "social entrepreneurship" and defined it as "the effort to start a business that provides products and services with the aim of solving social and regional problems." In Japan, the proportion of entrepreneurs (including those with experience) is 7.9%, while social entrepreneurs (including those with experience) only make up 4.4%. Furthermore, we found that among social entrepreneurs, the proportion of those who earn profits by selling services and goods as opposed to those who voluntarily operate without profit is 55.7%.
In addition, the proportion of those who strongly intend to engage in social entrepreneurship in the future is 7.8%, while the proportion of those who are interested in social entrepreneurship or supporting such endeavors is 21.7%, and the proportion of those who are particularly interested in investing in such efforts is 12%. Furthermore, as the main causes for concern with regard to social entrepreneurship, many respondents mentioned the risk of failure, the lack of personal funds, and insufficient revenue. On a related topic, when asked what kind of support for social entrepreneurship they would like to receive, many respondents mentioned fundraising support (loans, investments, subsidies, grants, etc.) and information related to such support.
Meanwhile, with regard to the SDGs, only 7.3% of respondents knew the details, and 74.7% said that they have never even heard of them. In addition, out of the 17 goals established in the SDGs, the top three goals that social entrepreneurs considered as being important are the elimination of poverty, good health and well-being for all, and clean water and sanitation all over the world.
As demonstrated by these results, it is clear that the recognition of the SDGs in Japan and the number of people engaging in social entrepreneurship and social businesses are still very low. However, there are many people who are interested in social entrepreneurship and would like to support such an endeavor, with actual activities being carried out in some places.
For example, at Kyushu University, there is a research group called Yunus and Shiiki Social Business Research Center that is named after Muhammad Yunus and engages in activities in collaboration with him. The Yunus and You (YY) Social Business Design Contest offers young people a chance to deepen their knowledge about social entrepreneurship. (Many students from Chuo University, where I belong to, took part in the 2018 contest, and one of the groups from our university won first place in the student division.)
Moving forward, I believe it is crucial to proactively promote these regular activities and related academic research efforts, and to build a coordinated network for those who are engaging in, supporting, and researching social entrepreneurship in the context of sustainable development goals, or in other words, a social entrepreneurship ecosystem.