Yoshiki Hiruma, one of the young global leaders of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions, wants to make the world a better place by helping the homeless achieve emotional and financial independence through playing soccer.

As a volunteer director of the homeless soccer team “Nobushi Japan,” which competed in the 2011 Homeless World Cup in Paris, Hiruma, 31, says that his interest in homeless soccer started from an experience of helping a homeless person sell The Big Issue magazine on the street as part of the volunteer educational program of his banking job. The Big Issue is a publisher that hires homeless people to sell its magazines on the street.

He said that his sense of value fell apart when a homeless person outsold him over a period of three hours, with the homeless person selling 20 copies and Hiruma moving only three.

“I was surprised that I was thoroughly beaten by that homeless person in magazine sales. It was one of the most powerful experiences in my life, and felt like getting hit in the head with a hammer,” he said.

At the end of the three hours, the homeless person asked him to play soccer with him on the weekend, which later led him to becoming director of the team.

As a banker working for the Development Bank of Japan Inc. in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, Hiruma received the Young Global Leader 2015 Award given out by the WEF’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions, dubbed Summer Davos, for two reasons. First was his involvement with the soccer team, and second, in recognition of the development, along with fellow bankers, of an enterprise resilience rated loan program based on business continuity management rating (BCM rating) at the bank.

This is the first program of its kind, and he says investors around the world have been interested in the program since 2012. Around the same time, Hiruma became a member of World Economic Forum’s risk response network and national resilience research team.

The introduction of financial initiatives for building a resilient society was done through the DBJ’s ranking of companies according to how resilient they are to natural and other disasters, and the companies that are ranked as being highly resilient are financed through the bank’s program.

“Resilience has been a key word and global agenda in society for a few years now. We are living with risks, and crisis is the new norm. A resilient society needs resilient companies. If risks are managed well, business can go on, but if badly managed, the investment will become a loss,” he said.

Hiruma says that if a company or a nation faces some kind of risk such as a major earthquake, losses cannot be ignored, but what is important is how it responds to the situation and recovers.

“Collective strength is needed at such a time. One needs to build up a new position through reconstruction and innovation. This is what we call resilience and strength to build back,” he said.

He is surely using this skill to lead the homeless soccer team. He says that many of the soccer team members have regained their self-confidence and independence through playing soccer, and some have started working again.

He has also helped the soccer team grow, and the team now counts not only homeless people as members, but also people with disabilities or dementia.

“It’s so diverse. It doesn’t matter whether the person is homeless or not, nor does it matter whether the person has disabilities or not. People just get together as a team to genuinely enjoy playing soccer. That’s all that matters,” Hiruma said.

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