Column A Message from Mr. Kanetoshi Oda, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nippon Poly-Glu Co., Ltd. | CHAPTER 3

Summary > CHAPTER 3 Japan’s Foreign Policy in Major Global Issues > 2. Japan’s International Cooperation (ODA and Response to Global Issues) > Column


A Message from Mr. Kanetoshi Oda, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nippon Poly-Glu Co., Ltd.

h3_04_01.png My dream is that one day people throughout the world can drink unboiled water without any worries. With this dream in mind, my company developed affordable and safe water depuratives and now we export the products to Bangladesh and other developing countries. It all started when I experienced the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995 in Kobe. Drinking water was in short supply and I thought, “There is a pond in front of me. How helpful it would be if I could use this water for drinking”. This was how I came to establish Nippon Poly-Glu Co., Ltd. in 2002. At the beginning, I was thinking of the domestic market only. However, on second thoughts, I realized that safe drinking water was mostly needed in the developing world.
 I myself countlessly went to Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, saleswomen called “Poly-Glue Ladies” go from door to door in villages and sell our products with a demonstration in which they add the water depuratives to the muddy water in a glass and stir it up, with the result that the upper half of the glass of water is purified. At first, I tried to “teach” local employees how to sell the products but then I decided to leave sales method to them. That was when everything started to go smoothly. They thought on their own and exchanged ideas on how to sell the products.
 It took me a while and I made tremendous efforts before I realized that to let of the local staff have their own way was the key to successful business. I am sure that companies in a similar sector will be able to put their businesses on track sooner based on my experience. I believe that the Japanese are innately best at the bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) businesses. However, the problem is that many companies just cannot take a first step. I wish they would start their businesses from what they can do even though it would be a small step, rather than flinching before the sheer scale of the business or the risks involved. Small and medium-sized enterprises should be agile enough to take up the challenge.
 At present, we sell water depuratives in about 40 countries. We plan to expand our business more to developing countries where our products are needed. In 2012, my company was introduced to UNICEF India through the MDGs Public-Private Partnership Network by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are thinking of helping improve the water situation in India, where many infants die from diarrhea. As a first step, we are planning to conduct a field survey there. We still have a long way to go, but it would be an ideal business for companies if business profits and social contribution can go together.

Kanetoshi Oda
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Nippon Poly-Glu Co., Ltd.

“Poly-Glu” Ladies at work in Bangladesh

“Poly-Glu” Ladies at work in Bangladesh

The water depuratives make the water clean and drinkable.