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For love and money: Entrepreneurs discover working for the benefit of individuals within society can be profitable
Kumi Matsumaru / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
It was during a stint at a Tokyo real estate agency while in college that Toshinori Kawada became aware that landlords often refuse to rent to foreigners. "That's the case at many real estate agencies," he says. "They blame language difficulties or stereotype foreigners as being unable to abide by rules, and ultimately they just strike them from the list of prospective tenants.
"I decided to do what I could to solve the problem by working as an intermediary between non-Japanese house hunters and real estate agencies and landlords who would consider them as tenants if their concerns could be alleviated."
Kawada first tried the volunteer route by working through an organization that helped foreigners find apartments. He soon discovered how inflexible and slow-moving such organizations could be as they had no real sense of urgency.
He decided to instead go into business for himself, as it seemed a more effective way to provide the services he thought were necessary. He enrolled in an entrepreneurship course and, in November 2006, set up The-You.
The-You acts as a sort of interpreter and mediator between foreign tenants and Japanese landlords, …