5 Ways to be Engaged and Make Extra Money in Japan Apart from Teaching English

Like many other African students in Japan who have the opportunity to do a part-time job of 28 hours a week, it is not hard to soon find out that there are not many options for part-time jobs apart from teaching English. And coupled with odds such as (i) Not being considered a native speaker or more preference for native-speaking applicants (ii) Little or no Japanese language proficiency, and (iii) not much opportunities for foreigners in general (depending on which city you live in), there is little or non-existent options for such openings.

I have been in this situation and it has made me think of alternatives to the  ‘traditional’ part-time jobs suitable for African students, or anyone living in Japan at all.

The following are the options I have considered, tried or trying, which I think anyone can also venture into. Note that each option has varying degrees of starting or getting into so I will start from the simplest to the hardest in my opinion. Overall, it depends on whoever is going into any of these. One more thing is that they are all internet based, so it is not limited by language, or country or region. Once again, internet to the rescue!


Most people dismiss this simple, yet effective channel because they think it is just about writing things on the internet. But as simple as it is, people make a ton out of this. This simply works by providing interesting contents (could be anything) on a web page and monetizing through advertisements and other various means. This article breaks it down easily.  And you do not even need to know how a website works to thrive in this. In my opinion, if you already have a Facebook page, then you already have enough skills to get started, even at little or no cost. Additional skills needed could include Photography, Graphic Design, Web design.


This is by far the easiest I think, and through which you can make a decent amount of money. It is as easy as having an email address. If you have a google account, then you are already a potential YouTuber. Good thing is, you do not need any specialization to get started. If you have a smartphone made after 2015,  you like public speaking, and can engage an audience then you are ready to go. See this list of richest YouTubers of 2017 to understand the potential. Combine this with blogging and you have a winning formula. Additional skills needed could include Photography, Video Editing.

Cryptocurrency Trading.

Japan is one of the few countries in the world who has legalized cryptocurrency. In the simplest non-technical terms, cryptocurrency is the money you cannot see but can still use for transactions. You can see more details here, but frankly, that is all you need to know to get started. Imagine if you can easily trade company stocks, except that, it is not stocks but virtual money. And this is totally legal in Japan. All you need is to be legitimately living in Japan, create a cryptocurrency trading account (can complete within a week), then you are good to go. And since this is trading, you will need some startup cash, but you can start with as low as 5000 yen.

Web/App/Software developer/designer.

This one is maybe on the farther end of the spectrum, but with the internet, this is very worthwhile, and would even be still relevant if or after you leave Japan. While here in Japan, I have contracted software engineers from outside Japan with no hassle. Yes, it requires a learning curve and some considerable effort but it is totally worth it in my opinion (much more than the best opportunity in a convenience store or elementary school). There are tons of free courses online to learn the necessary skills and you can start putting your skill to use immediately as there are many opportunities over the internet for this skills. You just need to find them out. With this skill, no one cares where you are from, but what you can do. I know this because I have experienced it. This website offers good resource if you are interested. You need an inspiration, check out this Japanese Grandma who taught herself to code and make apps from scratch.

Freelance Everything (On the Internet).

This is coming last because it fits into all the categories. I mean there are a ton of websites on the internet where you can offer a skill or service for someone who needs it, at a price. Once again, no limitations. It is all about solving someone’s problem. So if you have a skill or can offer a service that has not been mentioned above, chances are there is a freelance website for you already. A simple “XXXXXXX freelance” on any search engine will help here. I personally like; Fiverr and Upwork, but there are more. So go ahead, search away.

Honourable Mention – Social Media.

Social Media is a great tool, but less 5% of people use it for business purpose. I have seen very interesting and inspiring stories of people making a living out of social media. If they can, you also can. This 89-year-old Japanese Grandma took Instagram to whole new, hilarious level. This Japanese man paints in Excel and sells on social media. These are carefully chosen examples to let you know that there is really no limitation to what you can do, even with all the odds in Japan. Nuf Said!


Written by Joshua Owoyemi

Joshua Owoyemi is a Robotics and Machine Learning PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University, Japan. He is also the first Nigerian self-driving car engineer from Udacity.
He loves sharing technology insights through writing and has a passion for development in Africa. See his other articles on Medium. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

Social Entrepreneurship; Africa’s potential in the Technology era.

If he were alive today, Kwame Nkrumah would be beaming with pride and hardly able to hide the ‘infectious’ smile as they say he had; as he would know that the struggle bore its fruit. As the curtains came to a close at the 30th Heads of African States Summit; the vision for Africa was in the minds of all and sundry. When they put pen to paper; the 23 heads of states signed the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), this will dynamically change movement of people and goods within the continent, providing employment and fostering a more formidable union.

In his speech as he assumed the chairmanship of the AU, President Paul Kagame seemed to have silently realized the power technology has for human development. ‘The growth trajectory that transformed Asia is not necessarily viable any longer for Africa simply because we waited too long to act. Technology has evolved so rapidly in recent years that Africa’s window to follow that strategy is narrowing much more rapidly than previously understood.’ He said.

We as Africans have something special that we need to preserve and cherish; it is an envy of the world yet we do it without a drop of sweat. We recognize that first, we are social beings and community is an integral part of our livelihoods. We form friendships instantaneously and effortlessly and we always find meaning within those friendships. Let us never lose this even in this era of Artificial Intelligence. To ensure that we propagate and jealously preserve this; we need to quickly start to implement solutions to those vices that threaten the continuity of our ‘Africanness’. These solutions must include the entire community that we so much cherish. Every one of us has something to give to the world; this is the time to rise up to the stage. The world will listen and watch as long as we are willing to be interesting actors and actresses.

It is no longer the norm where board room decisions determine the economic courses of action; technology has demystified bureaucracy disrupted the usual way of doing things within a period of less than 20 years to such unprecedented levels that nobody thought possible. Take for instance how cryptocurrency has by passed the bureaucracies of central bank regulation of financial flows and how Uber has relegated the Taxi guy to an idle if not jobless member of society who still parks on the road side waiting for clients and hoping to reap them with his price monopoly. Despite the hostile environment Uber received as it made its debut into these murky waters; it has stood the test time and from this; other even more cheaper and friendlier Hybrid mobile applications where passengers car pool to work are popping up everywhere. The taxi men have had no choice but to upgrade themselves to meet this quality driven service.

Social entrepreneurship is a concept we can easily integrate within our societies to solve the challenges facing our world of today. The novelty of it, is how it allows us to solve a problem while creating empowerment, employment, education and sustainability. Take a case in mind where 4th year Engineering students come together to make a solar panel for pumping water for irrigation as a solution for water scarcity. These students will have done a successful project hence guaranteed graduation and maybe head hunted even before they ‘burn those books’.

Their solution however will have produced a bumper harvest, bringing more income for the farmer, the surplus production would be stored in ways to ensure availability throughout (Value addition in preservation), food industries would have more supply and the country will literally be food secure. The solar panels can go into full scale industrial local production making the best of the 365 days of the savannah sunshine. The new ways of urban planning would literally transform to one house; one solar.

We live in times where saving our planet is the discussion in every meeting of the minds. African Development Bank has gone into full scale renewable energy, Germany has so much clean energy that it is in excess of their energy needs. If we are to continue calling earth our home, we all have a part to play in saving it.

Other forms of entrepreneurship where profit making is the main goal for being in business, creating cut throat competition where winner takes it all has been the main way of doing business. The Oxfam report released at Davos 2018 could not have put it any worse. The world’s richest 1%, got 82% of the wealth created in 2017 alone. We can no longer sustain this forms of inequality. It is not only a threat to peace; it is the highest form of injustice than we as men can bring on our fellow men.

Social entrepreneurship on the other hand provides for inclusivity for all. Both skilled and unskilled labor work hand in hand to provide practical working solutions for societies’ challenges and while at it, everybody gets a decent income that affords them a living standard for any human being.

It incorporates the chemical engineer who develops ways of recycling laundry water up to 80% of it for reuse by separating oil, dirt and organic matter from the water, the mechanical engineer who provides for how the water will be pumped across the different holding tanks, the electrical engineer who calculates energy demands for the entire system, the business developer who takes the product and sells it as an Eco Plus solution (give it to them, they know how to advertise) to the laundromat attendant (former domestic hired help turned skilled laundry expert) who ensures your laundry is done to satisfaction, the driver/ rider (former sole proprietor ) who delivers your laundry.  This saves us water consumption in our homes by 75% bearing in mind that laundry takes up the lion’s share of water in our homes.

This nothing short of genius model of thinking, can only make society a better place to live in. We would have less worries for ‘small yet cannot be ignored’ challenges and we can use the saved up time to think and create a waste recycle system that ensures anyone who comes into contact with any form of waste or as we call it garbage can sell it and get money immediately at the waste recycling plant. Take this to the bank and cash it, you would never see any waste littering any part of anywhere within our cities. I beg not belabor the potential of waste as a source of clean energy and again the jobs it would create for the millions of Africa’s youth whom everyone seems to talk about but little is being done about them.

This way of thinking where we think of solving problems before making profit is the only way Africa can leapfrog towards achievement of its vision 2063. These forms of social entrepreneurships listed as examples should move from them being good ideas to being implemented. Anyone whose eyes upon which these writings shall fall; take them up, think them through, research on them, write to companies or persons who have done this before, learn from them, take up what works for your situation, make them into business models. Create jobs.

‘You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time’ Angela Davis once said. Do not be afraid of greatness. The young social entrepreneur from Sierra Leone; Kelvin Doe could not have summed it better that how he put ‘creativity is universal and can be found in places one did not expect to find it”.

My favorite: ‘Only us can help us to become us; and when we become us; the world will respect us’ Francis Duro.

Long Live Mama Africa.

Writen by Jemima Kibira:

Jemima is the founder of African Women’s Health Foundation and she champions for increased access for women’s health care and facilities that provide for such. Her primary goal is to advocate for more cervical cancer screening and treatment so as so allow women live in a cervical cancer free society.
She is currently pursuing a Masters course in Palliative Oncology in Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine.
She is a nurse, mentor, tutor, Social Entrepreneur and brave lover


What happens to developing countries in the post-information age?

My country of origin is Nigeria but I presently study and live Japan. These two countries are worlds apart in terms of development and and advancement but I do not intend to use this post to show how a country like Japan is more advanced than a country like Nigeria. This statement is more agreeable than not. That been said, I’m really interested in the future. I’m interested to know what the future holds for developing countries like mine. Most of which are in Africa by the way. I have thought about the question in the title of this post for a little while so I would like to share my thoughts here.

There seems to be a continued debate about what age we are in right now or whether we have transitioned out of the information age yet. So until there is an agreement on the best nomenclature to use, I will refer to this present age and the one after as the post-information age. There is so much going on in the world right now in terms of technology and the advancements on the various cutting edge. See my recent post on 5 technologies you need to learn about if you want to be relevant in 10 years time to understand what I mean. As all these are going on, many countries like mine are been left in the dust in terms of our contributions. I am going to share some images that should make any well-meaning and visionary African sad.

The first image is a map of the world on which cities are getting ready for the age of self-driving cars. None in Africa. By the way I just finished a Nanodegree in Self-Driving cars from Udacity. I might as well be the first Self-Driving car engineer in Nigeria or even Africa. 😉 . Let me know in the comment if you know any other person.

Source: Bloomberg

Next is a map of from space showing light pollution. While this shows some concern for astronomers, I see something different. Africa is the darkest part. Basically, about 68% of Africans are still without power.

Light Pollution Map

Next is map of 2015 world internet users as a percentage of a country’s population. Some African countries are waking up in this area. Still, generally abysmal.

World Internet Users Map

Next is a map of world Nobel Prize winners by country. Do you see a pattern here?

Source: Pinterest

These are all statistics from the past, you say. Well that’s the point of this post. What does the future hold?

Before I discuss that, see the next image about every country’s highest-valued export. Something important about this image is that the developing countries mostly export raw materials, while the developed countries export finished products. This is the status quo, but there a hidden message here. Africa’s natural resources feed the worlds advancement. If you cannot see it, then you cannot see it.

Source: Business Insider

So, talking about what the post-information age future holds, I can only give conditional speculations. If the situation continues the way it is right now it means developing countries will continue to be what they are; developing. And her resources will continue to feed the advancements in the developed countries. However, I have hope that we would be more than just developing. The following are some reasons I have this hope.

First of all, Africa is young in terms of the demography, and might as well become the workforce of the future. This is both good and bad. The reason is that, because of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, the nature of work is moving away from mass workforce to smart or intelligent workforce. What we focus on right now will determine which side we will fall in the future.

The world is running out of food, but this is neglecting the impact of Africa’s arable land, more than 25% in most African countries. I think Africa will supply food to the world in the future. Soon we are going to realize that we cannot keep sending out raw materials and importing the finished products. We are going to be the makers and the producers, we will use our own technology and export the finished products.

Africa still supplies most of the world’s essential natural resources and precious metals. If only they can be self controlled and the proceed go back to the communities where these resources are gotten from.

There is more to say but a focus on only one of the above has the potential to turn around the fate of African countries. However, are we moving in the right direction? This question is hard to answer. However, there are some indicators which I think might be pointing to some future trend:

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, Immigrants from the Subsaharan Africa earn more than immigrants from Mexico, Caribbean and Central America in the United States.

Kenya leads the world in mobile money technology. We might be seeing the true financial revolution start and take place in Africa. Presently, in some parts of Kenya, a lot of people don not use cash money, all monetary transactions are done through a cell phone.

There is rise in international education by students from developing nations. A research in 2008 showed that Nigerians are the most educated in the US. Generally, there is a migration problem but I think we are making good use of our opportunities.

Source: The Migration Observatory

Over 600M projected venture capital funding to African Tech Startups by 2018. The next global tech company might be coming from Africa, and this makes me most excited.

Ghana is working towards building high speed rail system throughout the country. This will be the first in many to come.

These are all potential indicators, but to answer the question of what happens in the post-information age? I think we are going to see an unprecedented embrace of technology from Africa like never before. In summary, we will surpass expectations. But of course we must keep working. We need massive human capital investment. We need a trade explosion between African countries. We need to start and focus on converting our natural resources into finished products. This is the true self-empowerment.

We are already late but I believe we can catch up.


Originally published by Joshua Owoyemi on Medium

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