“What is unique about WIT is that our members—who are recruited from the business community—pay an annual fee to be volunteers. They are then matched up with social entrepreneurs in disaster-affected areas. Members bring their experience and skills to bear and act as mentors, coaches, or advisers for each venture,” Yamamoto explains.
So, for instance, through the organization’s Cross-border Learning Journey program — involving entrepreneurs from Japan and the United States meeting at a retreat in Tohoku — members are introduced to ventures that may benefit from their support. Typically held over three days, the program allows participants — such as entrepreneurs, directors of social foundations, urban planners, business people, lawyers, journalists, and designers — to assess the vision and strategy of each venture. Participants then devise a support strategy.
Diversity has also been a hallmark of such retreats, with men and women aged 20–70 taking part.