Series #15
What is a Social Intrapreneur? The case of ANA Blue Wing.

Many of us are aware of the pressing points on the global agenda such as poverty, health, education and climate change. Quite a few young people have left their professional jobs at investment banking, consulting and international organizations to start non-profit organizations (NPOs) trying to resolve these issues. I believe there are even more people that want to DO something about the above-mentioned social problems, and yet are not ready to leave their job.

Becoming a “Social intrapreneur” may offer a new option for those who want to become involved, without giving up their career. While social entrepreneurship is well-known and has become an established practice in recent years, the concept of “social intrapreneur” is still new and not many people are familiar with it. Even those who advocate it are not sure whether it is a viable notion and what kind of issues “social intrapreneurs” may face.

For our #15 session of “Davos Experience in Tokyo” (DET) series on May 30, we would like to discuss this new approach to getting involved in the global efforts to resolve social problems, by using the Blue Wing project at ANA ( as a case study. We would like you to ask many questions and more importantly, think of specific ways to promote “Blue Wing” to the world.

The idea of “Blue Wing” was born at the 2010 Global Agenda Seminar Series which I facilitated. Akira Fukabori, who originally conceived the concept, has persisted in his efforts to market the idea within his company, ANA, over the past four years and finally received support to experiment with it at ANA corporate level. It is now critical to attain wide support from the public to keep this project alive, as the trial phase of the project is ending soon. That is where we need your ideas.

On May 30, we will have Akira Fukabori and his ANA team with us to explain what it is like to be a social intrapreneur, how they have managed to receive corporate support and what issues they face currently. We want your ideas to help them and specific actions to keep the Blue Wing alive. So please join us on May 30!



At the request of our participants, starting with the next session of “Davos Experience in Tokyo” (DET) on May 30, we introduce the following changes in the format of the event.

The event starts at 19:30 (doors open at 19:00) and ends at 21:30

The session is followed by a casual networking session at the same venue (Wilson Learning Innovation Center).

Registration fee is 4,000 yen (including participation in the networking session over light snacks and drinks).

Video & Discussion


Session summary

We began session # 15 with introducing the concept of “social intrapreneur” and the potential it has for solving social problems.

Next, we listened to Mr. Akira Fukabori presenting “Blue Wing” – an innovative initiative that he has been working on at one of Japan’s leading airline companies, ANA.

“Blue Wing” is a win-win project at ANA designed to support social entrepreneurs (currently five Ashoka fellows) in their mission to bring social change, while the company benefits from the higher profile and an increased exposure it gets among the entrepreneurs’ network. Apart from raising awareness about global issues among its clients, ANA supports the Blue Wing affiliated entrepreneurs by donating money and support their airfare within ANA’s network. Support is entirely based on ANA clients’ and supporters’ engagement in the project. Everyone can become involved and contribute in either of the following ways:

• Vote for the “Changemakers” and Ashoka on the website – voting is free and each vote will be matched by a 50 US cents donation from ANA.

• Share information from the website

• Buy a ticket through the website – 1 % of the fare will be donated to entrepreneurs or Ashoka to help support their travel (outside ANA network) and accommodation..

The project has a huge potential, but it also faces many challenges. The biggest one is gathering sufficient momentum for it to take off. This means attaining as much popularity, audience, engagement and support as possible. Ultimately change is brought by people, so more engaged people equals greater impact.

It has taken the organizers of “Blue Wing” four years to build it up and gain a chance to test it on the official corporate level. However, they only have a limited timespan to prove that the initiative is sustainable – which in this case means to demonstrate that there are enough people who care enough to get involved. To get to the next stage, “Blue Wing” needs 240 000 votes from supporters (as of May 30, 2014 it has 1152).

We proceeded with a presentation by Ms. Carrie Akiyama, who spoke about the value of strategic PR in the promotion of projects like “Blue Wing” and introduced key concepts that our participants could use in the brainstorming session. Strategic PR starts with finding possible “interests” related to the product to be promoted among the target group. After translating the advantages of the product for the target segment interests, a theme which combines the two needs to be created. The campaign then is based on generating a “news” media material (book, video clip, research report etc.) and building a strategy to spread the theme in a variety of media.

Next, we had a breakout discussion session, in which our participants came up with many exciting ideas for promoting “Blue Wing” to a wider audience. One of the ideas was a flash mob event in which celebrities, as well as ordinary people like ANA engineers and pilots, would sing and dance to promote the project. Improving the website voting system, introducing voting through twitter hash-tags, introducing email recommendations and getting support from other big companies were also among the ideas generated by our participants in the break out session.

We finished the session with brief closing comments by Mr. Fukabori and Professor Ishikura, who noted that social intrapreneur projects have the potential not only to better leverage the companies’ resources, but also to have huge impact on the social agenda globally.

Posted in ARCHIVES.

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