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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/journal/2022/4/1/nikkei-plus/

Nikkei Plus: the showcase of Nikkei entrepreneurs in Peru

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Roger Gonzales Araki, founder of Nikkei Plus.

Football always gives you second chances. You lose one Sunday, but the next you can win. Time is not an asset to squander on regrets, but to prepare yourself with the goal of overcoming the next challenge. This is, roughly speaking, how journalist Roger Gonzales Araki deals with things.

Like for millions of people around the world, the coronavirus pandemic was a knockout for him: he had to close the family karaoke business.

However, Roger knew how to get up and what began as a devastating setback became the opportunity to risk everything for a dream.

His dream was to have his own media. When he did an internship at a local newspaper or during his time at the Peruvian-Japanese Association and the Estadio La Unión Association, the adrenaline that comes with running a journalistic space attracted him.

He achieved it before the pandemic, at the end of 2017, when he created Nikkei Plus , an online portal that reports on the Nikkei community in Peru. But there was a small stain: it was not the complete dream, since he partially dedicated himself to it (almost like a hobby; he did not update the notes often), busy as he was in the family business.

The crisis unleashed by the coronavirus pushed him to fully dedicate himself to Nikkei Plus with a significant advantage: the expansion and strengthening of the digital world.


NIKKEI BRANDS

“The pandemic helped me,” he says about his full-time return to journalism, after lowering the curtains on the family business. The first months, he remembers, were complicated.

What direction to take? he asked himself. I needed a line, a clear focus. It was no longer simply a matter of publishing notes alluding to the Nikkei, like someone launching balloons without knowing in which direction they will move, at the mercy of the wind, but, in essence, of finding a way.

Thus, he decided to focus on Nikkei brands, on supporting businesses in the community, including those that sprung up as a result of the pandemic, forced by necessity.

The portal has grown (in scope, content and staff, with three collaborators working with it). The ventures he reports on have also grown. There are communicating vessels between both parts. Roger identifies with them. They share circumstances, motivations, desires.

The Nikkei journalist highlights, for example, the accountant Nancy Miyasato, who as a result of the pandemic reinvented herself as a professional organizer.

Under the label “Order to transform”, today Nancy teaches workshops and courses. Roger says he is “very pleased” with his progress. The case of people like her is touched in a special way. “People who launched themselves like me,” he notes.

Among them, his “honor” stands out, as well as his sense of smell to have been able to find a vein in the critical pandemic situation.

“It's not easy to have your own business, that's why I identify with them,” he says. There are those who tell you that after you interview them their sales go up. “I'm quite happy (to be a showcase for entrepreneurs),” he adds.

You can talk a lot about difficulties. He knocked on doors looking for sponsorship and they did not open them at first, but little by little they began to let him in. This, which is told in a couple of lines and seems as simple as writing it, took several months of contacts, efforts and insistence.

Meanwhile, he took advantage of the time to take free courses of whatever he could, especially related to digital marketing.

Roger knows what bad times are like, but also what it means to recover and patiently reap the fruits of your effort. Here we return to the football metaphor from the beginning. “Life is like football. The success of a team is not when you win, but how you get back up after a loss. Every Sunday is a revenge,” he says.

"NEW TALENTS"

Roger Gonzales, via Zoom.

During the pandemic, Nikkei Plus has covered a virtual information space vacant in the community due to the temporary cessation of traditional newspapers or their retreat to print format. And unlike these, the portal does not focus too much on institutional work to give more space to the Nikkei from the periphery.

The website that Roger runs has become a showcase for Nikkei of the most diverse occupations, from doctors, psychologists and yoga promoters to real estate entrepreneurs and crafts experts.

Behind them there are stories of entrepreneurship, of desire to get ahead, of people hit by the pandemic who have risen up and restructured, of vocations and passion for art, cooking or sports, of resilience and perseverance, of hopes and bets. for the future.

The dissemination of their stories through Nikkei Plus has contributed to positioning entrepreneurs favorably and making them (more) known.

With his support of small and medium-sized Nikkei businesses, Roger also seeks to motivate people with stories that exemplify the drive and creativity of those who struggle to move forward, valuable narratives in pandemic times of discouragement, when the nightmare seemed to have no end.

“It helped me differentiate myself,” says Roger, referring to his agenda of content that transcends the Nikkei status quo, which pursues “new talents” that are not part of the core of the community, of its institutions. Many Nikkei do not participate in the community's institutional activities, he says. There are stories to discover and tell.

Having opened up has allowed it to also reach people who are not of Japanese origin. Its audience is diverse not only in terms of ethnicity, but also in age. A large sector is made up of young women, who are hooked by the stories of entrepreneurs, as well as older people who attend regular talks on health topics given by a doctor through Facebook and who write to him to thank him. “It makes me feel very good,” he says.

“I have always liked helping people, and if I do it with what I like (journalism), even better,” he adds.


BALANCE AND FUTURE

These two years of pandemic have also been a learning period. “I have learned many things,” he says. When you run an independent website, you have to carry out activities that are beyond the strictly journalistic exercise, such as searching for sponsors and negotiating (and having the wrist to do it).

In general terms, he feels good about what he has achieved to date. “It's not that I'm doing very well, I'm there, a little better than before, fighting the same way,” he clarifies, but revealing a satisfaction that, above figures or money, has to do with the fact of doing what he likes.

“I feel very happy, very proud. I think it's my best moment. I always wanted to do something of my own. It has helped me a lot to mature, I have learned a lot too. Journalism is my passion, my vocation, I wouldn't like to dedicate myself to anything else,” he says as a summary.

“It gives me great satisfaction that thanks to Nikkei Plus I can give things to my daughter, to my family,” he adds.

What's coming? Continue expanding Nikkei Plus and improve its content, especially the audiovisual part. Additionally, Roger plans to open a news portal in April. For entrepreneurs, the future is always an opportunity to continue growing.

© 2022 Enrique Higa

COVID-19 journalism Nikkei Plus (online news) Peru Roger Gonzales Araki
About this series

In Japanese, kizuna means strong emotional bonds. In 2011, we invited our global Nikkei community to contribute to a special series about how Nikkei communities reacted to and supported Japan following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Now, we would like to bring together stories about how Nikkei families and communities are being impacted by, and responding and adjusting to this world crisis.

If you would like to participate, please see our submission guidelines. We welcome submissions in English, Japanese, Spanish, and/or Portuguese, and are seeking diverse stories from around the world. We hope that these stories will help to connect us, creating a time capsule of responses and perspectives from our global Nima-kai community for the future.

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Although many events around the world have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed that many new online only events are being organized. Since they are online, anyone can participate from anywhere in the world. If your Nikkei organization is planning a virtual event, please post it on Discover Nikkei’s Events section! We will also share the events via Twitter @discovernikkei. Hopefully, it will help to connect us in new ways, even as we are all isolated in our homes.

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About the Author

Enrique Higa is a Peruvian Sansei (third generation, or grandchild of Japanese immigrants), journalist and Lima-based correspondent for the International Press, a Spanish-language weekly published in Japan.

Updated August 2009

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