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Kenji Iino

Kenji Iino

Data and Systems Manager, Ashinaga Africa Initiative

I remember the exact moment when I decided that I wanted to work for Ashinaga, it was early 2013, I was in Japan receiving a special scholarship from Ashinaga to study the Japanese language while living in Tokyo Kokorojuku. At the time I was 19 years old and had just finished my second year as a Marketing undergrad student from the PUC-PR University (Brazil). I had some doubts about my choice of major mainly because most of the content I studied was focused on profit, and large companies and that was not what I wanted. One day I went to visit the Ashinaga HQ, as a common Japanese practice and was shown a little bit about their everyday work. There I realized that things I’ve studied were being done at Ashinaga and that it was possible to work for a non-profit cause being a Marketing student. Something that was never really addressed at my University and never crossed my mind before. The common image of NGOs in Brazil is only about volunteering and that you can’t really make a living out of it.

I am half Italian-Japanese born and raised in Brazil, I’ve worn many hats inside Ashinaga, but currently, I manage AAI’s CRM software coordinating with all the different teams to make sure that information sharing and more efficient long-term processes are being set up/developed to ensure that we are able to have a more informed decision-making process. I also work under the PND, where my role is to provide general career support to AAI Scholars in Japan and Brazil, acting as a career consultant and making sure that they are motivated and proactively looking to develop their professional selves. And just recently I’ve joined the GAT, which goal is to keep good relationships with the AAI Graduates, keeping them informed and engaged in Ashinaga’s activities to create a sense of community between AAI Scholars and Graduates as well as potentially other Ashinaga stakeholders, such as partners, donors, and mentors. We also coordinate the Scholars’ AAI graduation process, which consists of making sure all necessary documents are provided on both sides and that we are able to have a last heart-warming conversation between Ashinaga and the AAI Scholar before they graduate. My favourite part of my job is to be able to work closely with such talented young students and see their development over time, and I am sure that collectively I’ve learnt much more from them than they have learnt from me.

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