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In the News: Hitotsubashi University Business School

Charlie, Nabe, Shige, and I joined the Yale Africa Startup Review this year, where our team, the "Otaku Four," collaborated with Developers In Vogue (DIV). DIV is a Ghanaian NGO that provides African women with IT education, such as programming to boost the social advancement of African women.

I joined this program because I was interested in start-up companies and collaborative work with the African people, which I never had an opportunity to do before.

The Hitotsubashi students and their #YASR30 Startup team, Developers in Vogue

We spent the six weeks analyzing the internal and external environment, identifying key issues, and devising solutions. In a week, we did individual work, held a team meeting, and then had another meeting with DIV. We faced many challenges working on a plan of action. In the analysis phase, it wasn't easy to collect the information and data we wanted. We accessed various institutions, such as the Ghana Bureau of Statistics, the World Bank, etc. However, the analytical techniques we learned at some courses of Hitotsubashi ICS, such as Strategy, as well as Business Government and International Economy, were very helpful. Then, in order to identify the issues and devise the solutions, it was imperative to gain a deep understanding of DIV in a very limited time and identify potential problems. So we made hypotheses and planned solutions through meetings with DIV. As a result, we proposed a new business plan called temporary staffing business and offshore development that handles work from overseas to create employment opportunities for DIV students and graduates. We realized that we could plan a solution in a short period of six weeks because we leveraged each member's strengths and had a team-oriented mindset.

Selected as Finalist

After six fruitful weeks of effort, we were selected as a finalist. However, the time of the presentation, including the Q&A session, was 10 minutes, so we focused on improving our slides by creating an optimal presentation structure to give a dense but persuasive pitch on the final presentation day.

Final Presentation Day

The presentation, as most school-led events this year, was held online. Due to the time differences (between Japan, the U.S., and Ghana), our team made our presentation very late at night (JST). However, we were very happy to see many of our classmates and professors participating in the session to support us. Thanks to their encouraging feedback and our rehearsals, we were able to do our best in the final presentation. Though we couldn't finish in the top three, we are proud that we achieved the best result as a team.

Looking back on the Yale Africa Startup Review

First of all, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to YASR, Hitotsubashi ICS, and DIV for giving us such a great opportunity; professors and classmates who gave me many warm messages; and especially my teammates: Charlie, Nabe, and Shige. YASR was the first time I participated in such a problem-solving project, and I am very glad I joined. It allowed me to learn a lot from my teammates, such as how to proceed with a project, identify issues, and plan solutions. Although it was conducted over a relatively short period of time, it became an irreplaceable asset for me and my MBA experience. I am happy to have had such an experience at Hitotsubashi ICS. Even after graduating with my MBA, every time I see our team T-shirt with the DIV logo printed on it, I will remember this precious time. I am proud that I participated in YASR, and that we were selected as a finalist team. For the coming months, I want to enjoy the rest of my student life at Hitotsubashi ICS while looking forward to the day when we can visit Ghana to meet the DIV team in person; hopefully someday soon!

Program Overview

Yale Africa Startup Review (YASR) is a six-week-long program led by graduates and students of Yale University. MBA students around the world teamed up with African start-up companies to solve problems that the companies are facing. This year, 150 teams applied to the program, and only 30 teams were selected and invited to participate in the program. Just six out of the 30 teams were selected as finalists and given opportunities to give a final presentation to investors.

Shinya Mizuno

Class of 2020 (one-year program)

After graduating from university, Shinya joined a Japanese retail bank. After working at a branch office as a corporate sales representative, he was transferred to the financial investment department and engaged in foreign exchange, U.S. Treasury bond investment, and investment strategy planning. Then, in 2020, he started his one-year MBA program at Hitotsubashi ICS as a company-sponsored student.

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