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PFJ partners Mercy Corps and Abukuma Shinkin to support small businesses in Minami-somasoma city


 US, French and Japanese NGOs join forces to support rehabilitation of small businesses in Tsunami affected area, collaborating with local bank

 PlaNet Finance Japan, Mercy Corps, Shinkin Central Bank and Abukuma Shinkin Bank today announced a groundbreaking global partnership to reinforce financial access of the small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are affected by the March, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and following Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster. The partnership, named as “Minami-soma Tomodachi Fund for Economic Recovery”, will provide financial access to SMEs for the reconstruction of their businesses in Minami-soma, Fukushima.  

 The Minami-soma Tomodachi Fund for Economic Recovery aims to recover local economy and promote creation of employment opportunity in Minami-soma by replicating the framework of the SME recovery program in Sanriku region. In November 2011, PlaNet Finance Japan, Mercy Corps, Shinkin Central Bank established the “Sanriku Tomodachi Fund for Economic Recovery” with a local cooperative bank, Kesennuma Shinkin Bank, to reinforce the financial access of SMEs affected by the Tsunami in the Sanriku area (Kesennuma, Minami-Sanriku in Miyagi and Rikuzentakata, Ofunato in Iwate). As of September 2012, the program has supported a total of 171 SMEs to start-up, recover or reemploy staff.

The Fund will provide grants and subsidies that are critical to the recovery of the SMEs with less than 20 employees before the Tsunami. It will offer;

  • Grant for reemployment of SMEs’ staff which were forced to dismiss their employees. The grant will create and support minimum of 4 jobs by providing one-year long employment subsidy.
  • Grant to start up new enterprises in Minami-soma reflecting newly emerged local demand for various services, including elder and child care, value chain reconstruction or delivery services for temporary housing units. The start-up fund will support 3 local entrepreneurs.
  • Interest subsidy for new loan product for tsunami reconstruction that provide long term capital to rebuild the facilities and buildings lost by tsunami with free interest for 2 years with total amount of 5 million Japanese yen for subsidy.

Initial funding of $200,000 comes from Mercy Corps and the Japan-America Society of Oregon (JASO) - which promotes business, education, and cultural exchange between Japan and the State of Oregon. Pendleton, Oregon is a sister city to Minami-Soma, which lead to JAZO's special interest in supporting economic recovery in Minami-Soma. Mercy Corps is headquartered in Portland Oregon.

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