A mysterious single-celled algae with chloroplasts can move on their own without cell walls which is characteristic of normal plant. It is euglena that everyone might have seen in a science textbook. It is not an exaggeration to say that euglena can change the world, also, various powers are hidden in it.
Euglena Co. is a biotechnology company that develops products and businesses utilizing euglena. Main businesses are the sales of healthcare products and environment business such as the biofuel business. In addition, Euglena Co. covers a wide range of projects including health check and a program of supporting children in Bangladesh.
Euglena Co. was established in 2005. A current president Mr. Izumo visited Bangladesh when he was a student and since then, he has a belief of improving the nutritional condition of the children in Bangladesh. Later, Euglena Co. was created based on this belief. In Euglena Co., they call their employees “comrades” to show the importance of growing up together and the spirit of helping each other.
This time, we were able to talk to Mr. Kimura, who is currently in the Management Strategy Department and Corporate Planning Division. Surprisingly, he quit his previous job at a bank and got a job in Euglena Co. with the hope that he could change the world with his “comrades”.
Euglena has so many functions. The biggest function is its abundant nutrients. Through those nutrients, you can improve mental health as well as your physical health. Because of these characteristics, it is said that euglena is a superfood. Euglena Co. provides a variety of products such as euglena cookies, beverages and cosmetics for 200,000 customers. Euglena is planted in Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture and processed as products such as cookies. Currently, e-commerce is the main sales channel of its products.
Mr. Kimura said, “Like lactic acid, bacteria drink that had not been accepted as a common food before, but now everyone naturally accepts it as a food. We expect euglena to become a famous food in the future. It is my own dream and mission as well as our company’s.” In order to introduce the power of euglena to the public in an impressive way, Euglena Co. has started a TV commercial recently.
In Bangladesh, where is the inspiration for the establishment of the company, Euglena Co. distributed nourishment euglena cookies to 10,000 local children a day. This activity will be continued until the food problem is solved.
Euglena also contributes its power in the biofuel field. Mr. Kimura said, “In some countries, airplanes fly with biofuels. However, there have not been any previous examples yet in Japan. Japan is a developing country when it comes to biofuels.” So, Euglena Co. is currently partnering with other companies and promoting many projects concerning biofuels. It will make an effort for the biofuel project to increase public awareness of biofuels in Japan. This must be a huge step toward changing Japan’s environmental businesses.
Last year, Euglena Co. launched a new program of introducing a CFO (Chief Future Officer) and summit members, limiting the opportunity to those who are under the age of 18. CFO takes complete responsibility for projects concerning the future of Euglena Co. We got interested in the innovative idea, so we asked him about the introduction of CFO, the role of CFO and the positive impact on ”comrades.”
Euglena Co. actively runs businesses related to environmental issues such as climate change. In order to expand this project, Euglena Co. gathered voices from various generations. Most adults showed a negative attitude toward environmental problems, caring about the cost of undertaking such projects. However, only a group of four students took it seriously. They accused adults of not tackling environmental problems earnestly.
This experience made Euglena Co. realize that it was younger generations who thought the future of the global environment was their business. At the same time, Euglena Co. fully realized that it would be extremely absurd to ignore the voices of younger generations. Therefore, they finally decided to incorporate the idea of younger people into their business by introducing CFO and summit members.
Euglena Co. advertised this program not only by utilizing SNS targeting at younger people, but also by running an advertisement in a newspaper targeting their parents. These advertisements got a lot of responses, resulting in more than 500 entries from people ranging from the lower grade of elementary school to 18 years old high school students. The backgrounds of applicants are also diverse. Some originally had great interests in science and researching a specific theme, others are interested in the social contribution.
When deciding the members, Euglena Co. attached importance to following three perspectives: whether applicants have a new idea that current Euglena Co. does not have (novelty), whether applicants has a clear and concrete goal what they want to achieve at Euglena Co. (concreteness), and whether the core idea is related to the project of Euglena Co. (empathy).
After the document screening and the following interview, one CFO and eight summit members were chosen for this program.
Since they were appointed as a post of CFO and summit members in October 2019, Euglena Co. has held “future summit” every month. The first few times of this conference helped members to understand the business of Euglena Co. Recently, members have been discussing the natural environment which is a theme of this year. For example, they discussed how the projects of Euglena Co. are implemented on the natural environment and how we can alleviate the burden on the environment.
As the time of being CFO and summit members is only one year, the topic will change next year. Mr. Kimura thinks that it will be interesting to discuss the relationship between projects of Euglena Co. and human rights or poverty, both of which are one of SDGs.
At the same time, colleagues’ mindset toward environmental problems has been changing little by little under the influence of younger generations. Mr. Kimura quit using plastic bottles and started to use reusable bottles instead. One of his colleagues quit eating beef because a large quantity of crops is used to produce beef. They have a sense of shame towards future generations in common.
Younger generations think environmental issues as immediate concerns to their generation. In contrast, adults do not take it seriously. This fundamental difference makes them change their attitude toward the natural environment. Through the interaction with CFO and summit members, “comrades” of Euglena Co. strengthened the belief that they would become a company which next generations can be proud of.