By Rieva Lesonsky
Reina Otsuka has already come a long way in a short time (she’s only 31), but she’s not done by any means. Reina has a vision of “leading the world to sustainability.” She is the founder and CEO of eco+waza, a company she founded in 2006 to promote sustainable living in her native Japan (before she takes on the rest of Asia and the world). In addition to offering hundreds of green products for sale on her website and in her magazine, Reina also conducts workshops teaching others to lead more eco-friendly lives.

 Reina Otsuka
In 2010 the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry selected Reina as their Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. And this winter she was one of only 70 “Global Shapers” (comprising entrepreneurs, scientists, NGO activists and corporate employees) invited to participate in the renowned World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The Global Shapers took on the arduous task of formulating solutions for four of the world’s biggest challenges: society and technology; resources and sustainability; leadership and innovation; and growth and employment. Reina found it “interesting how everyone from all parts of the world had such different insights on each issue.” Specifically, she says, the sustainability group had to overcome many misunderstandings (about sectors and generations) before agreeing on a definition.

Reina gives credit to older generations for thinking about the environment, but she adds, “We must start living in a new paradigm. I think our generation is trying to redefine what happiness is—it is not only about economic growth anymore.”

Davos had a profound effect on Reina. As she was leaving she tweeted: “My vision is much clearer after meeting and discussing with leaders of today and fellow shapers.” Her vision? She wants “to take what I am doing in Japan—incubating small, everyday green solutions (products and services), explaining it from an environmental point of view and rebranding—and bring it to other countries, especially those that are still on their way to ‘development.’ ”

By helping these companies “rebrand their local products and deeds,” Reina believes her company can stop them from turning to a “business-as-usual approach, and keep their original eco-[concept].” She plans to spend the next few years building this model in Japan and searching for partners in other parts of Asia.

At Davos, Reina says, she not only met inspiring members of her generation from all over the world, but also discovered that “many older and important people were so willing to listen to what the younger generations have to say.”

The experience made her feel even more hopeful about the future. “I’m having a baby in June,” she reveals, “and I hope I can become a parent who actually lives what eco+waza is trying to spread. I think living your words is what all entrepreneurs can do!”

Reiva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.