We are pleased to announce that Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd. (HO in Toshima-ku, Tokyo; President and Representative Director: Masaaki Kanai), the manufacturer and retailer of MUJI products, is the first retail business in Asia approved as a Business Call to Action (hereinafter, BCtA) initiative, hosted at the United Nations Development Programme (hereinafter, UNDP).
Our initiative, "Reducing poverty by developing household products and capacity of local producers in Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia," has been approved as meeting certain standards of offering the potential for development impact along with commercial success. BCtA, hosted by UNDP, is a global initiative promoting business endeavors achieving both commercial success and sustainable development. We believe that the future benefits of our proposals for product development activities in these regions were highly appreciated.
[Background of the Initiative]
As a store dedicated to providing lifestyle products of beauty, art and taste from Japan, Ryohin Keikaku proposes "a simple, elegant and comfortable lifestyle at reasonable prices," creates and communicates new values to customers, and is working to make a positive contribution to the development of society through core business.
In 2011, as a project to develop Christmas gifts, we supported the One Village One Product Project (OVOP) promoted in developing countries by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (hereinafter, JICA), and for the first time we collaborated with JICA in planning and developing suitable products. In the following years we have continued jointly developing products with villagers in Kyrgyzstan and Kenya through an initiative aiming at revitalization of their communities by local people making the best use of local original materials and techniques. We applied the same product quality and design standards as our regular products, and the commercialization of a range of items was made possible thanks to the great efforts of the local producers, and the cooperation of JICA, along with our advice on the actual product manufacturing process. Through these activities, in Kenya and Kyrgyzstan products are produced every year to international quality and design standards; in this way we are contributing to the improvement of the skills of local producers, particularly women, and an increase of cash income.
Moreover, from last year, we are promoting "natural dyed" products making the fullest use of natural materials. Some of the raw materials used as dyes are cut flower stems left after shipment and furniture wood waste among other natural ingredients. The waste after extracting the dye is also used as an organic fertilizer. In Cambodia, aiming at the establishment of a sustainable global supply chain in product manufacturing, we will continue eco-friendly product development, and thus contribute to the creation of local employment with many economic, social and environmental benefits.
These initiatives have been acknowledged as business ventures hosted by UNDP and are both commercially successful, and sustainable. Our initiatives are expected to continue making a contribution to the social and economic well-being of local people.
JICA's One Village One Product Project
The One Village One Product Project started from Oita Prefecture in Japan and aims at revitalization of local communities through making good use of local resources and developing local specialties. Based on experience gained from the Japanese One Village One Product Project, JICA is now working on expanding the initiative to developing countries, particularly in rural areas. More specifically, they are implementing projects throughout countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that support the revitalization of local communities through the advancement of local industries, and by utilizing local tourism resources, and developing and selling products made from local raw materials.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
UNDP with its HQ in New York was launched in 1966 as a United Nations agency under the UN General Assembly and the UN Economic and Social Council. Focusing on the key four areas of Poverty Reduction and Achievement of Millennium Development Goals, Democratic Governance, Crisis Prevention & Recovery, and Environment & Energy for Sustainable Development, the agency is promoting a broad range of development assistance in 177 countries and regions.
Business Call to Action (BCtA)
BCtA is a global initiative launched in 2008, aiming at the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through the core businesses of private enterprises; the key participants are enterprises, governments, and development agencies. The initiative is supported by nine development agencies and governments including UNDP, and assists in the establishment of business models that combine commercial success and development impact. About 70 companies have become members of BCtA in such fields as agriculture, healthcare, financial services, energy, and education.
Corporate Planning Office Tel. 03-3989-44100