Masa Kogure doesn’t need very detailed introduction.This award winning social entrepreneur and philanthropist is well known for his innovative organisation, Table for Two’s work. Table For Two is an international group based out of Japan which works to curb obesity in the developed world at the same time works to eliminate the problem of hunger in developing countries especially in Africa . Unlike other organisations which mostly transfers donations to combat malnutrition, Table for Two not just provides the necessary funds from the developed world but also works to promote better health and nutrition on both sides of ‘the table’.
Table for Two partners with over 500 partners(mostly restaurants) in various countries like Japan,US,UK,Italy,Switzerland,South Korea,Taiwan and Hong Kong. In these countries various partners like the corporate cafeterias, university dining halls, governments and restaurants. These partners serve healthy and balanced meals to their clients and then transfers certain amount of money for every meal which is the value of the excess calories to Table for Two. The last we checked Table for Two has served about 58,103,408 meals to children.These meals are served to children in countries like China,Malawi, Ethiopia,Uganda and Rwanda. Table for Two’s options of donating are sold across various convenience stores in Japan.
Masa who used to be an engineer and a consultant with Mckinsey has been recognized and awarded worldwide for his work. He has been awarded the ‘Asian Social entrepreneur of the year’ in 2013.His efforts are recognized by esteemed Schwab Foundation for Social entrepreneurship and by Forbes as one of the youngest philanthropists. Masa has also authored a book on social entrepreneurship called- ‘Connecting the world with Twenty Yen’. This book is very popular in Japan and is considered as a guide by lot of people who want to work in social sector. Below is our inspiring chat with Masa:
1.What inspired you to start ‘Table for Two’ and how did you go by developing the organisation?
The original concept was born during the regional conference of the World Economic Forum in 2007 where one of the sessions was discussing the solution of the world hunger while another was discussing the obesity. During the break, a group of people from the two sessions met and discovered that underlining causes of two opposing issues the same. The group eventually developed the concept of transferring calories. As for myself, I have always wanted to use my business skills and experience gained through working in the private sector to something meaningful and good for the world. So when I found out about the concept, I immediately got fascinated by it, and determined to turn it into social business myself. I also felt that we need organization to start the business and make it sustainable.
2.What are the factors that led ‘Table for Two’ to grow so exponentially across the world?
Win-Win: One does good for oneself and for another less fortunate
Simple: One for one concept
Easy: No implementing and running cost for participating companies.
3.How did you educate the people in Japan about your organization and what has been the impact of your work in Japan?
Probably people see our organization and myself as a pioneer in the sector. We are the first organization whose members have work experience in the private sector, and which runs a social program as business. After the success of ours, many social business have been initiated by young talented people coming from the private sector.
4.Can you tell us something about your book, “Connecting the world with twenty yen”?
It is now regarded as a bible book for those who wish to start social businesses, particularly youths. It is also widely read by business professionals who are in charge of corporate social responsibilities.
5.What has been your biggest learning in your journey at ‘Table for Two’?
Being passionate about what you do; it attracts other passionate, skillful and capable people who will support and help your organization.
6.How do you cope when going gets tough?
I always ask for help and not to try solve everything by myself.