Keisuke Kubota (Kei)

Where Keisuke is from

Mino-shi, Osaka, Japan


Interview (to myself)

What was your dream when you were a kid? What was the reason?

I wanted to be a member of a Zyu Ranger, which is like Power Rangers. By the way, did you know that Power Rangers was made based on Zyu Rangers, which was a Japanese TV show?

Anyway, I loved superheroes and watched any kinds of superhero TV shows almost every day when I was a kid. The reason was too simple; because they kicked villans and bad guys’ ass every time and looked super cool. “Save the people”, “save the world”, “save the earth”…I know it sounds cheesy but you’ll see that I was always pretended to be a Zyu Ranger or any superheroes whenever my parents pointed me out with a video camera. I don’t think the boy Keisuke thought about saving the world, though, just the superheroes were very shining for me.




What was your dream when you were 18 years old? What was the reason?

I was seriously planning to become a firefighter when I was 18 years old. In order to be a firefighter, passing several exams were required, so I was studying for that by myself so hard. First of all, I wanted to get a job that helps a lot of people. Second of all, I wanted to work on the field, not being stuck in my office a whole day. I didn’t mind working out very hard and the job could save a lot of people’s lives. Being a firefighter was my dream job. I never see movies in the theater alone, but I even saw a movie about firefighters that is called “Radder 49” by myself because none of my friends wasn’t interested in such a minor movie.


What made you start thinking about social entrepreneurship/social enterprises? When was that?

Answering that question, I have two turning points.

One, I read a book that is called “The Business of Changing the World“, written by Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, in 2008 and it taught me what social entrepreneurs and social enterprises. Since then, the concept has stayed in my head.

Two, in 2005. It was actually the beginning of 2015, in January. ISIS kidnapped two Japanese, Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, threatened Japanese Government and killed both of them in the end. It was quite shocking news at least for me. Of course, it was shocking news for every single Japanese person, but I felt that everyone around me took the fact differently from my point of view. First of all, most people didn’t know about ISIS and their existence. Some had heard of it but didn’t take them seriously because nothing that was related to them had happened in Japan.

I was very anxious about the stance of Japan in the world that time, feeling that we left behind the world and people are too innocent. At the same time, I realized that it was time that Japan shouldn’t rely on other countries too much and should take initiative.

Tchonte wrote about the story on her blog. I really liked it. Check it out!


How much do you think social entrepreneurs play an important role in the world?

I believe that social entrepreneurs play a very important role in the world and that’s the reason why I came to San Francisco to take Master of Social Entrepreneurship. However, I think that what one social entrepreneur can do is limited very much and is not impactful. Of course, my purpose of taking MSE program was because I needed to learn to be a social entrepreneur, but my “hidden” main reason was because I was really curious about those who would become my classmates, who would be my potential social entrepreneurship buddies. The beauty of social entrepreneurship is that the more social entrepreneurs get involved, the more impact you give to the world. So the community of social entrepreneurs is the most important part for social entrepreneurs. For example, Thomas always mentions “community” whenever he talks about ATLAS because that is what he wants to build and he knows how important it is. MUSANA CARTS created such a strong community around it because a lot of people fell in love with Musana and they became big fans of us.

Creating “community”, not just business partnership, is the key of “success”, which is giving a big impact to the world, for social entrepreurs and that is how we need to play our role in the world.


What would you say to future social entrepreneurs / those who are interested in social entrepreneurs?

Make it clear what your purpose of doing what you do, always come back to the purpose when you’re stuck, and expand your network, connection and community by asking for help, learning from others and staying tuned.Again, what you can do alone is very small and limited, but

Again, what you can do alone is very small and limited, but the community that you will build is much more impactful than you ever imagine.

Lastly, remember, stay positive. Any troubles are chances especially for social entrepreneurs.


What is your favorite quote? Who said that quote?

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up” – Thomas Wayne (Batman Begins 2005)


From MSEs

(my lovely classmates)


From us, to you, dear Keisuke. In gratitude for you always being you.



From Aimee:
Keisuke Kubota…a philosophical person who used to look at life with the rose coloured glasses of living in an economically developed society, but was later forced to look things differently, and what he found changed something in him. This discovery awakened a need to seek answers to the suffering that was so prevalent around him and along the way, he met 64 other individuals to were in a similar mindframe. Among these 64, 2 became closer than most for the three of them would later be plunged into a totally unique experience of creating and implementing a possible answer to the problem of suffering that they wished to solve. Tho they encountered some disappointments along the way, they are at peace with the knowledge that they are part the solution. Keisuke is a person of purpose who goes where life takes him. He is a kind and considerate person who is genuinely friendly to everyone he meets, and is interested in getting to know them as individuals. He also believes in a higher calling and is not afraid to follow it.
Keisuke is a Social Entrepreneur.


From Alan:
Keisuke transforms those around him into better versions of themselves. I have never met anyone with a bigger heart, a wider grin, or a truer commitment to an empathy-driven life. The best part of those qualities is that Keisuke finds a way to make them contagious. It appears effortless, and I believe it is, because it is simply Keisuke being Keisuke. Like the sun rising every morning effortlessly and generously, Kei spreads warmth wherever he goes. And like the setting sun, when it’s gone, you know it is simply lending its brilliant warmth to others elsewhere. Thank you for always making my day brighter, Keisuke. Here’s to many more together in the future!


From Alexa:
Keisuke for me means inspiration. I really think he reflects the true meaning of a social entrepreneur, heart and courage. I know he will get far and I am proud of calling him my friend and colleague.


From Alexander:
Keisuke, a man of heart. A heart of sincerity and compassion. Keisuke is a man that can be trusted to do the right thing, even when he may be alone in this action. Integrity is the name of the game he plays. He touches everyone he meets with his sensitivity. When speaking to Keisuke, you feel like there is no one else in the world besides you. I’m am proud to call Keisuke Ohana, a brother to share this journey of life. Love yeah man!


From Alison:
Keisuke is one of the most empathetic, enthusiastic and compassionate people I have ever met. He is always there to support his friends (and, really, anybody who needs help). From the moment I met him, I felt like I could tell Kei anything. Our conversations always begin with Kei asking, “How are you?”, and I know that he is genuinely interested in my response and well-being. Kei is also a unique leader. He is one of the few people I know who can immediately grab the attention of the room without speaking loudly or forcefully. Instead, people listen because they know Kei speaks from his heart, with gratitude, honesty and humor.

One of my favorite memories of Kei is when he gave the entire MSE class go-en coins, symbolizing that all of us will remain connected, no matter where we go. I still have my go-en sitting on my dresser. It reminds me every day of the lifelong connections I made last year, and of Keisuke, who will always be the heart of our MSE class.


From Amogh:
My Favorite Memory with Keisuke is from the 1st day we Met.

Place : International Hostel, San Francisco
Date : Early September, 2015

I was coming home after trying to make sense of a city which prides itself for being weird. Being the first time ever for me to “live” outside Bombay was unnerving for me. Didn’t know anyone in this city either.
Came back to the hostel I was living in and found a Japanese guy with a stupid smile on his face sitting on the couch in the lobby with fellow Asians from South Korea who looked no different than him.

Our conversations were mostly about Japan & Korea, both of which have a very special place in my heart.

After the conversations ended, the Koreans left and I was left with this Japanese guy who somehow looked hungry to me.

I asked him if he was, he said yes!

I had bought some eggs and milk earlier in the day which I had left in the refrigerator in the common kitchen downstairs. The non-conforming-to-rules AK in me got the kitchen opened and made the both of a big & healthy late night omelette meal which we both relished!
He seemed to get his zen back somehow after that meal.

Days went by and then I realized he is in the same Master’s program as me! Like WTF ?
Some more days went by and I left for NYC. When I came back, this Japanese guy had been living in my house for almost a week and had been asked by Thomas to live with us!
15 months since that night we met, every single time I have asked him if he’s hungry, he has said yes. We still relish our omelette and ramen meals and he still gets his zen back after every meal.

To one of the most kind, selfless but pervert people I have ever met in my life, I would never share my house again with someone like Mr. Kubota.

P.S. Emphasis on Pervert.


From Ana:
Keisuke is such a wonderful friend that when I see him I can’t avoid to have a smile on my face. I will always remember the color of his skin after his Hawaiian trip. He is a very warm person who searches for the happiness, comfort, and participation of everyone surrounding him without asking or expecting anything in return. He is a unique pal and an awesome friend!


From Andhika:
Keisuke has inspired me by what he has done with his friends and his BIG project Musana. Such a nice person, supportive, and always thinks positively. He deserves to be an MSE, the best one. One of few people that i saw able to motivate other people.


From Andrea:
K has this amazing energy that the moment he smiles at you, you feel automatically full of happiness. During all the MSE he was a person that supported everybody, smiling and talking to us in a funny but really caring way. We could always feel his backup as an HSA and specially as a friend. I know that Keisuke is half Latin and half Japanese, not only the way he sings Marc Anthony songs but because of the way he like to party.


From Andres:
One of my favorite memories with Keisuke was the night right after the cruise party, where Kei proved to be a great Mark Anthony impersonator (a video talks more than a thousand words). Most importantly, during the whole MSE program he proved to be a good hearted, kind, and smart person. For all these reasons, I love him! (PD: I also love very much the woman on the background singing the chorus). (EMBED VIDEO)


From Anissa:
Never have I met anyone so naturally at ease with goodness, kindness, generosity and an ever-present smile. I admire your bravery and fearlessness to take a leap into the unknown guided only by your inspiration and trusting that everything will fall into place. And, it will. You emanate optimism and positivity and it surrounds you fully. You are a true Asian contagion, but the good kind.


From Annette:
Keisuke is the kindest of all the MSE! With his warmth and passion to do good and bring a smile to the people he cares for, he represents the best in all of us. I had the pleasure to work with him outside of the classroom. As part of the HSA, he made me feel like we were the best team for the best program every single minute. I could not have a better partner. All I can say is that I have been blessed with an amazing friend and like-minded soul. It has been an honor sharing part of my journey with him.


From Camilo:
A big yeah! That’s what comes to mind when I think about Keisuke. A human being with a genuine, great heart that spreads with his big smile and supportive “yeah!” which is very necessary in today’s world, a positive and optimistic virus. All in all, one of those people that you want to keep in your life forever, as a friend, as a colleague and luckily for me, as an “hermano de sueños”.


From Celyn:
Part way through the year at Hult, I became overwhelmed by mental health problems. Keisuke was one of the first people to notice and offered to help in any way to he could. When I was anxious to speak to our professor about missing too much class, he advocated for me and ensured that the prof was willing to work with me if I reached out. Despite being so busy with Musana and the HSA, he went out of his way to continue checking in and encouraging me.


From Chunmei:
I have some close Japanese friends around me, but Keisuke is definitely unique one among them. Keisuke is a thoughtful person and he also dares to do whatever he is passionate about. He is a fun person and knows when to stop and being serious. I think that’s why so many friends would approach him easily and feel comfortable. I’m truly delighted to be a friend of him and I wish him every success in his life and future endeavors!


From Elena:
I think what makes Keisuke bright, different and so admirable is that every time you share with him becomes memorable and unique. I believe one of the reasons why I became his friend is because of his passionate, shameless, outgoing, funny, upfront and ambitious personality. I love how he is always interested in listening to my stories, how he always asks about my Angolan boyfriend, and how he admires my curves and big ass with no shame. I have a lot of respect (or sonkei) for Keisuke and all of his achievements. I love you Kei.


From Fanen:
I wonder what Keisuke means in Japanese but in English i’d probably guess it means kind, friendly, humble, brave and fun all jumbled up into one amazing fellow but that’s just my perspective of him. My two year old daughter however saw him more as a superhero, ‘cos somehow around him she was extremely happy, confident and wouldn’t stop hugging him.
In a nutshell I’d say “K” is a leader the world is so lucky to have.


From Isabel:
Kei represents joy, happiness and humility. Always putting others concerns before anything else. He is a one of a kind person which I’m truly grateful that I can call him my friend.


From Ita:
Keisuke is a true MSE, He is getting along with almost everyone and he makes an effort to know ones that he rarely talk to. So proud for what he achieve so far, no doubt he will succeed in his carries, I wish him all the best in his future.


From James:
Keisuke is the most trustworthy Japanese man I have ever met. He always acts up to what he says, so I do believe that what he is planning comes true at last. I hope he will keep this consistency for the rest of his life, which will brighten his people and himself.


From Jena:
“I could say I succeeded greatly in MSE courses even though I am now kicked out due to low academic grades.” K talked to some of our classmate while seating at the front of the vending machine in the second floor. “I had 63 different networks and interactions from all over the world and that is the most and best objective that I was willing to achieve. Now I already got them so could not be satisfied more.” He was the one who knows true learning and what we should head for through our one year course: Not one piece of paper “Degree”, but exchanging thoughts, respecting different perspectives, supporting others, and extending experiences.


From Jo:
Keisuke is one of the most amazing people I’ve met. Such a funny, smart, and kind hearted guy, being surround him is always joyful and full of laughter. His stories and kindness are one in a million. Everybody loves Keisuke, and so do I. Arigato Keisuke❤


From Jordan:
Kei’s kindness is positively overwhelming. I don’t remember ever meeting someone that cheerful and enthusiastic on a daily basis. He really struck me with his genuine heart and his ability to always consider the bright side of things. If it is true that laughing can make one live longer, Kei might outlive us all, and by far. I’m grateful for having been his classmate.


From Juan:
Keisuke has always a smile to give. It is very nice to have someone to speak with who is actively listening. He is always willing to give without expecting something in exchange. I am very glad and blessed to meet such an extraordinary person and calling him a friend.


From Khristy:
I find Kei as a free spirited man that appreciates people more than things. I always felt his sincerity. Thank you for writing about ordinary people.. it’s an extraordinary thing! Go and spread kindness to the world. Good luck in everything you do!


From Leigh:
Keisuke is one of the kindest, most honest, down-to-earth, and optimistic people I know. His patience, compassion for others and authenticity make me reflect on how I treat others and view life as he (without knowing or trying) motivates me to be a better person. I am grateful I was able to work with him last year and truly appreciate the love Keisuke gives to others and his ability to stay true to himself. Thank you Keisuke!


From Lily:
Keisuke it’s simply the kind of person that represents transparency and positivity, always showing a good attitude and looking for the brighter side of situations. I always had a hard time believing in magic, but Kei brings magic into his life and the life of people around him. With Kei I learned that any theories I might have of good people experiencing bad situations were completely wrong, It is just a matter of perception and the reality you want to live. I can’t thank him enough for showing me a new path and helping me believe that everything is possible, even if it takes time, tears and a lot of crunches to get there. This is for Kei, the pure representation of an integral social entrepreneur that lives what he preaches.


From Luciana:
During this past year I had the opportunity to meet my First Best Japanese Friend. Keisuke is the definition of what a friend is. He is the kind of friend that no matter how far you are from or how long you haven’t seen him he will always be there for you. He is a charismatic leader, always taking care of his people and leading them setting the example, spreading love and positive energy. Because of Keisuke I decided to visit Japan. I wanted to know more about the country and the culture where my friend grew up. Since I have a very bad seafood allergy to go there was a challenge for me. Keisuke helped me in every step of my trip preparation and because his help I had an amazing experience! Thank you my friend for giving me the opportunity to share this last year (and many to come) with you!


From Luke:
When I started my master degree course in San Francisco, It was a really hard period for me, because I did not have any friend to make a conversation with. K was one of the few friends I could talk to. He was very kind and nice. One day, he suggested watching this movie together. I think he wanted to take care of me because he knew that I did not have friends. We watched a movie together, and it was the only experience to watch a movie with a foreign friend for me. I will never forget his consideration for me. I hope that he will achieve everything he wants in the US. I believe that he is one of the most promising people in my master degree course.


From Maddy:
I had K for secret santa. Based on his request, I originally intended to gift him a book. It was Star Wars season and he updated his list to include ‘anything Star Wars’ so I got him a stormtroopers T-shirt. He LOVED it and thanked me probably 10 times and sent me this selfie on his way to Uganda:



From Magali:
Keisuke’s energy is extremely contagious! His honesty and ease for saying things how he feels them has always impressed me. I think my favorite memory of Keisuke happened recently, it was going for a 12km run with him. Usually on runs like that I listen to music but we just ended up talking the whole time. He switched between asking me questions about how I’m doing, what’s new to encouraging words about how we’re almost finished on our run and as soon as we finished that we should do this again very soon! Keisuke looks for the good in people, he’s got this ability to remind you that the world isn’t out to get you but people want others to succeed, at least he does, he really truly wants people to do well.


From Manon:
Keisuke you are this calm, strong and powerful force that stand next to me and which is now continuously with me, here in Uganda. To have a Keisuke in your life is like a gift, and I wish to everybody to be lucky enough to share the same human experience that I had with you this year in San Francisco. With love, the fire of your water.


From Mariela:
Keisuke is such a wonderful person. He became my friend since day one and he’ll remain this way for the years to come. 🙂 Interesting fact: He is the first person who managed to break an egg only by squeezing it with his palm – it was so funny as well as interesting. 😀


From Marysia:
Keisuke is the happiest person I have ever met. He actually is. Like you just open your eyes and if Keisuke is sleeping somewhere close to you just look at his face and he is smiling.


From Michael:
Keisuke is a very warm and a quite unique person I have ever met. I admire his kindness to the entire class and his leadership presented in our Master journey. His words and actions showed me that there is a common belief, which cross border, religion, and race, between all the MSE students. It is my pleasure to be his classmate. I am proud that he was the leader of us.


From Nathan:
Keisuke is a friend who makes you feel like an individual. He is the kind of guy who is not afraid to help you when you are in need. Keisuke brings out the best in people and his warm heart has a lasting effect on everyone he meets. While others talk, Keisuke acts with both purpose and forethought. You’ll know what I mean when you get a chance to sit down and have a beer with him. Time with Keisuke is time well spent.


From Oli:
Last year, the Super Bowl took place in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the tickets were just a little bit expensive – so I started looking for an alternative and found out that the Arizona Cardinals were playing the divisional round against Green Bay. Tickets and flights were affordable so I asked Keisuke if he wants to join me on a 24 hour trip to the desert. Of course he said yes and we went together to witness one of the greatest ball games played of all times. So if you want to do crazy stuff and need a cool buddy to come with you – ask Keisuke! His insane talent of entering a room and be friends with everybody in like 15 seconds is just the icing on the cake of always having a good time with Keisuke.


From Paniz:
Keisuke, I’m running out of words for your kindness and compassion. I’ve never met anyone in my life so pure, caring and passionate as you are. Thank you so much for being the person you are and teaching a great lesson to people around you on kindness and greatness. And thank you for sharing this amazing piece of memory with all of us. It’s priceless. Thank you, K.


From Peggy:
Keisuke, is one of the friendliest people I have ever known, he’s always so enthusiastic about life, always lifting people moods when he’s around. I have no doubt that everywhere he goes there will be smiles and laughter all around.
Funny Quote from Dr.Seuss for Keisuke:
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”


From Rachel Dodd:
The best we can hope for is a life that inadvertently leads us on a path where the company we keep includes someone like Keisuke. His gentle heart and unbounding hope encourage weary feet. His joy and friendliness light up dreary days. He is the epitome of greatest weapon to an increasingly depressing world: kindness.


From Reyna:
Keisuke is a people person who is very approachable and will sincerely be there for you if you need his help. Keisuke, thank you for always laughing at my lame joke and thank you for making so many ordinary moments, extraordinary.


From Richard:
Keisuke is an untypical Japanese guy! Different to “traditional” Japanese. He is full of passion, is open minded and loves to share with others. His positive personality disrupts the image of Japanese people in my mind. His belief of doing things for good cheers us up!


From Rocio:
There are so many great things to say about Keisuke I don’t know how anyone could fit it in a couple of sentences. Keisuke is an innate social entrepreneur, he is smart and takes risks but above all he empathizes and cares about people. He is by far one of the most genuine people I have ever come across and I am sure he will continue to create and build great things in the future. I am fortunate to have been able to meet him and have learned great things from our time spent together!


From Rodolfo:
Keisuke is a great example of how a modern global leader should be. He understands the art of showing respect and empathy with other cultures and thoughts which allows him to leverage the unique potential of all of his colleagues in any environment. Regarding his preparation, I think he has a very interesting balance between the knowledge he just aquired with his Master in the US, the experience of being one of the top social entrepreneurs who pitched at the Hult Prize Finals, and his exceptional social skills. Apart from being a great student and social entrepreneur, he is an extraordinary human being.


From Segun:
Keisuke is pragmatic, honest and creative. I have found his most friendly nature very heart-warming and collaborative. Very outgoing and outspoken, you will not forget this Japanese warrior and entrepreneur in a hurry.


From Sella:
Keisuke is someone who always tries his best to go beyond his limit. Most of the time he forgot to take a proper lunch (not a fast food i mean), and always hungry because of that. In most of his presentation, he included funny phrase so he could get our attention.


From Taliey:
Maya Angelou once said, “People may not remember exactly what you say to them, but they will always remember how you made them feel” Out of the last 365 days I spent at least 330 with Kei. Every day he would greet me with a wide, genuine smile and ask me how i was doing. He would also always ask how i slept and have something nice to say about how i looked. You can never start your day off badly with Kei in your life. From brunches to airports, to African markets, to nightclubs, to late nights at school Kei is always a ray of sunshine. While making friends, keeping friends and even introducing friends his zest for life is irrepressible. I know how lucky I am to know him and I’m happy for the world because across continents, ages, races, and even languages Kei is connecting with people, spreading smiles and joy wherever he may be!


From Tatiana:
Within the past year that we shared, Keiちゃん was a living reminder of a positive attitude and gratitude. He inspired a lot of his peers. The most amazing memories I have of him is his constant support with different activities, his motivation with MUSANA and the small gifts that woke up memories, like the 白い恋人 🙂
❤MSE 「光陰矢のごとし」


From Tchonte:
When he told me that he came to San Francisco just to meet Marc Benioff after reading his book, I didn’t think Keisuke was crazy. Okay… I actually thought so, but a positive crazy one. Here is someone who is always smiling, taking care of people and making sure that when he has an idea he goes for it. Keisuke represents the boldness every social entrepreneur should have. I am proud of knowing him and being able to say he is my friend.


From Teresa:
Keisuke has a very special ability to connect with pretty much anyone. I learned a lot from him in this aspect. He really thinks about others and always remembers to look after his friends. I have a lot of really fond memories of him, it’s hard to choose! From his awesome singing in karaoke, that was always so much fun, his amazing sushi he would offer to make, to just being sweet and respectful. His speeches so full of life that marked us all. Kei really is a ray of sunshine in anyone’s life, I’m always happy to have him around.


From Thomas:
Keisuke has a super power. He comes into a room and lights it up bringing smiles to everyone fortunate enough to be in the room. I am glad that I shared one of these rooms with him for a year. When we go running he keeps that dinosaur smile of his even when he is down. He is a hungry hippo. Hungry for life as he is for noodles.



From Tomiwa:
Keisuke’s energy is one of the things I appreciate the most about him, how he can uplift a dull room just by saying hello. Sometimes while at Hult, I was really upset/felt a little out of place, and Kei taking a few minutes to talk to me about my day always made me feel a little better.


From Viya:
You are the kindest person, with the hottest butt.


The Power of MSE

What I am holding is a symbol called “go-en(ご縁)”, which means ‘fate’, ’destiny’ and ’special tie.’

I believe that it is meant to be that we met in San Francisco! I studied Social Entrepreneurship with my awesome and crazy classmates for a year, saying “We will make the world a better place.” I would love to spend the rest of my life with MSEs (Master of Social Entrepreneurship; my classmates) until the very day I die. They have already completely changed my life.

At the same time, however, I also think that we should not be together all the time, because that is not the reason why we learned Social Entrepreneurship. That is not how we will deliver the impact we want to give to society and to the world.

I think MSEs are like dandelions. We were seeded at the first day at Hult and we bloomed on our graduation day. Our mission is that we spread all over the world like dandelions and seed the future, the next generation, from each place where each of us has landed.

本当にありがとう(Honto ni Arigato-); Thank you very very much for everything!! The world needs you! Let’s make the world a better place together!!


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