Beyond the Border,
Create the Future

Cross Fields Newsletter : “New normal” at Cross Fields

Dear everyone,

On behalf of the Cross Fields team, I hope that our partners, friends and your loved ones are healthy and well in this very uncertain and trying time.

In the light of the COVID-19 outbreak and the limitations in movements both internationally and nationally, Cross Fields has suspended the operations of many of our overseas programs, including the Corporate Volunteering Program (CVP). However, we are keeping our spirit high as our team continue to work together to envision the society of “new normal”, to understand the needs of our partners and to consider what Cross Fields can do now.

One of the movements is designing new ways of collaboration. Building a novel model of Cross-partnership among Cross Fields, The Bridge International (The Bridge) in Korea and Tohe in Vietnam is our first experiment. Our recent video talks with The Bridge and Tohe, introduced in this newsletter, will clarify to you this partnership.

Another is improving our existing programs so that when the time comes to restart the overseas programs, the upgraded version will be ready to create further social impacts. The recent dialogue with our partners in Vietnam is a part of this movement. With their frank comments and insights into their experiences as the host organizations of CVP, we will work hard to enhance our programs further.

In this newsletter, we also would like to introduce two project managers. They are looking forward to working with more host organizations soon!

Cross-partnership- Cross Fields, The Bridge International (Korea) & Tohe (Vietnam)

In December 2019, Cross Fields and The Bridge International (The Bridge) in Korea, which shares common interests in social impacts creation with Cross Fields, signed a MoU for the partnership.
Founded in 2014 with head office in Seoul, Korea, The Bridge provides an innovative online financing platform, for social enterprises in developing countries, to seek low-risk, flexible loan capital, in social impact projects or business growing.
Today we could realize our first pilot initiative to cross-collaborate with Tohe, a social enterprise in Vietnam and a partner of Cross Fields, by connecting Tohe to the online financing platform of The Bridge.The Bridge’s “Impact Donation”, which is an impact financial scheme similar to crowdfunding, will support Tohe in developing digital art education for kids in all Vietnam (50% of fund), designing & producing education games for kids (both with and without disabilities) (30%), marketing these new products and business activities (20%).

Commenting on our cross-partnership, Ms. Jeewon (Impact Financing Program Manager at The Bridge), said that:
“ This first project with Tohe is a small step in our partnership, but from this, we can develop opportunities for further collaboration. After COVID-19, using virtual space, we can share knowledge, expand our networks with more stakeholders into the mission of supporting social entrepreneurs, not only financing and volunteering but also raising their visibility into our ecosystem.”
Tohe and Ms. Van (CEO of Tohe) highly appreciated this cross-partnership and they are very much looking forward to the success of the project with The Bridge, since it can help “ make our cash flow stronger in developing new products. It’s valuable under the current condition when our sales and operation is badly affected by COVID-19”. Ms. Van also says,
“ I am happy and satisfied with what we have done. The projects with Cross Fields so far are helpful and effective to us. I believe the successes come from the fact that Cross Fields knows us very well, our philosophy and spirit”
Up, left to right: Ms.Jeewon – Impact Financing Project Manager at The Bridge, Sayumi – Project Manager, Down: Tri – Intern

CVP and its impacts: Through the eyes of host organizations from Vietnam

On April 21st 2020, we were delighted to have an online talk with three CEOs of social enterprises from Vietnam. They are our partners, to whom we have dispatched many corporate volunteers over the years. The CEOs told us about the impacts of CVP in their enterprises, the challenges working with the volunteers, and their expectations on Cross Fields.

Q. What impacts did CVP create in your company?

For the very first program Cross Fields kicked off, the corporate volunteer from Panasonic Corp. was with Solar Serve for just one month. Time constraint was real for him, but he could manage to work with our team, consult his colleagues in Japan and do some interviews with consumers. Finally, he could introduce his idea of alternative materials for solar cookers. This working process of involving many people results in many precious lessons for the volunteer himself, Panasonic, Solar Serve and Cross Fields. Indeed, what is most important for us is having someone who actually works together with us.

When Dichung was in the startup stage, three volunteers with good technical skills helped build technologies which we still use today. At the stage of our organization scaling up, the next three volunteers with high management skills helped us improve our business operations, and connected us to foreign customers. I was most impressed when some of the volunteers actively put their minds into social issues and community contribution.

Q. What challenges did you have in working with the volunteers?

Firstly, time is limited to only 4 weeks. Then, language was a barrier. Neither staff at Solar Serve nor the volunteer could speak English fluently. But in the first week, two Project Managers from Cross Fields accompanied the corporate volunteer and helped us get along well with him.

Basically, we did not have any big problems with the volunteers. To pick out one thing, I would say that it should be on how proactive the volunteer is. Also, not every one of them had a deep understanding or concern about socialcontribution. Proactive and prosocial volunteers could communicate better, act more, therefore contribute more, without much guidance from us.

Tohe highly appreciated the skills and knowledge of the volunteers: time management, KPI management, learning and working spirit, high responsibility. These apparently speed up our business performance. Besides, their professional working style inspires our young employees much.

Q. In what ways can corporate volunteers build up the proactive and social mindset?

Social mind should come from within volunteers.
It is hard to educate them, but CVP can open the chance to learn and practice the mindset.

Give volunteers many opportunities to experience so that they can develop social spirit. At Tohe, we let them experience many activities, such as art classes with People with Disabilities (PWDs).When they come to our art classes and interact with the children, they develop social spirit.

Q. What do you expect Cross Fields to improve in the future?

We prefer longer time allocation.Also, if you want to bring about really effective impacts, matchmaking should be more attended to select those who fits the needs of the organization.

I honestly appreciate what Cross Fields have done so far, so keep going! I expect CVP to give room and time for volunteers to work out their own ideas instead of rigidly following a set scope of work. Volunteers should be more proactive to generate their own ideas, more willing to take risks, best trained with a social entrepreneurship mindset.

After the volunteering period, we hope there are more follow-up activities to keep in touch, to continue the friendship with the volunteers.At Tohe, we appreciate a playful and open mindedness. Therefore, we think that besides skills and experience, personalities of volunteers should be considered in matchmaking with the organizational culture of host organizations.

Up, left to right: Ms. Van – CEO at Tohe, Mr. Bich – CEO at Solar Serve, Mr. Nam – CEO at Dichung. Down, left to right: Tomoko – Project Manager, Sayumi – Project Manager, Tri – Intern

Messages from Project Managers

Through the 4 years of working at Cross Fields, I have had the wonderful opportunities to meet such inspiring social entrepreneurs and teams, who have touched my life and give me energy to move forward. I truly appreciate the invaluable experiences. It is my strong wish to weather this storm together with our partners and collaborate with you once again in the near future. 
ーTomoko Kitagawa
For the past 9 years since Cross Fields’ establishment, we’ve met and worked with almost 100 wonderful partner organizations. We treasure and appreciate each single encounter and bond. Knowing the fact that you are always making the most for the people, communities and society encourages us to move forward. Let’s get over this difficult time together! We sincerely look forward to collaborate once again with you in the near future! ーSayumi Nishikawa

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