The city of Ofunato in Iwate prefecture was hit particularly hard by the March 11, 2011 disaster. Alongside the human losses, the devastation to infrastructure, and the environmental impact, small businesses took suffered.
In the aftermath of the tsunami, more than 60% of small shops went out of business. While some managed to reopen with private funds, around 200 less fortunate shop owners were left struggling to get back into business.
Local authorities and the Ofunato Chamber of Commerce helped 116 entrepreneurs in seven new shopping areas to get back on their feet. JTI Foundation partner Peace Winds Japan (PWJ), helped shop owners by providing the funds needed to create infrastructure to facilitate access to and around their shops. In addition, further support was given to 59 shopkeepers in need of extra assistance – allowing them to purchase essential shop equipment and fixtures ahead of reopening.
As the business of local retailers and their suppliers picked up, this program provided a much-needed boost to the revitalization of the local economy and wider community benefitting 46,000 residents and numerous visitors to the area.