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A Hopeful Start of Elderpreneurship in Korea, the Hope Do-Re-Mi.

Author: Hope Institute
Published Date: 4 September 2009

A CEO of a major corporation and executives of financial corporations were among retirees from professional occupations who formed a nonprofit organization to utilize their abundant societal experiences and expert knowledge to advance social development. The organization is “Hope Do-Re-Mi” (hereinafter, Do-Re-Mi).

Retirees from Professional Occupations

With Life Experiences and Expertise as Its Foundation, Establishing a Social Enterprise

Editor’s Note:
"The Academy for Designing Happiness is an education program for persons who have retired from professional occupations and seek to engage in contribution activities in non-profit organizations during their second lives. The academy provides opportunities for participants who complete the program to engage in social contribution activities as well as assist non-profit organizations to improve their capacity by benefitting from academy graduates’ broad experiences and expertise. Citizen journalists in the concurrent project, “Happy Reporter,” directly visit NPOs around the country and play a role in bringing awareness about NPOs to citizens, including retirees"

A CEO of a major corporation and executives of financial corporations were among retirees from professional occupations who formed a nonprofit organization to utilize their abundant societal experiences and expert knowledge to advance social development. The organization is “Hope Do-Re-Mi” (hereinafter, Do-Re-Mi). The twelve members of Hope Do-Re-Mi each contributed three million won and this past May, completed registration for and became certified by the government as a Non-Profit Organization.

On June 16, 2009, the sun was hot but underneath the shadows created by white clouds in the summer sky, at the Pyongchang-dong Hope Institute’s fourth floor lobby, the moving-in ceremony for Do-Re-Mi was convened.

Social Enterprise Founded on Seniors’ Societal Experiences and Expertise
Looking like newly admitted students, the Do-Re-Mi members stood, some a bit unsteady and with shy expressions but their sparkling eyes completely filled with hope. Hope Do-Re-Mi chief representative Mr. Han Suk Kyu (age 61, former financial executive) delivered welcoming remarks to the audience.

“After completing the Hope Institute-run Academy for Designing Happiness’ educational curriculum (the NPO entry education program for retirees from professional occupations), and in particular, while becoming educated about social investment support foundations that manage microcredit (hereinafter, MC) programs, we formed a shared desire and said ‘let’s create an NPO that will restore society by using each person’s accumulated know-how, including experience and knowledge’ and today, we have come to realize this inaugural ceremony.”

This past March, the group designated Mr. Han Suk Kyu as their first chairman and began formally to build their enterprise. At the April 27th “NPO Support Law” conference, they adopted authorizing articles of incorporation and on May 18, the central government agency accepted their registration as an NPO and the enterprise was formally launched.

Cooling his sweat by the winds blowing from the edge of the Buk Han Mountain, chairman Han Suk Kyu continued to share his cherished impressions.

“You can liken the Hope Institute to the kangaroo mom and our Hope Do-Re-Mi as the kangaroo baby. We will think of the way you have arranged for our offices as akin to the kangaroo mom showing her heart. With this place as our stepping stone, we will diligently run. If in former times, to do business you definitely needed capital, land and people, I think that nowadays people and capital and passion are the requisite infrastructure. Because the twelve members are working so passionately, I believe that this enterprise will do well in the future. In truth, the reaction from related organizations is good and there is a lively exchange and interchange of ideas.”

The Hope Institute researchers who filled up the lobby sent an enthusiastic cheer to the Do-Re-Mi members. And Hope Institute Executive Director Park Won Soon, who had been watching over and supporting Hope Do-Re-Mi during its formative stage, conveyed his good wishes.

“I wonder if Hope Do-Re-Mi is not the framework and module for cultivating a new world. I think that Hope Do-Re-Mi is the first instance of a concretely realized dream by the “Happy Senior” project, which was started in order to guide retirees with experience and expertise into nonprofit organizations.

A few days before, at an international video-conference, I had an occasion to introduce the Hope Do-Re-Mi. Social Solidarity Bank’s Executive Director Lee Jong Soo, who had attended the conference with me, responded “we are already receiving Do-Re-Mi’s help and are conducting microcredit activities with them.” At the conferences, London and other like places showed interest in Do-Re-Mi and requested that materials be sent to them. As such, at the end of this July, I plan to participate in the Social Innovation Conference in Lisbon, Portugal and personally present this case example.”

First Venture Is Microcredit Consulting

The founding principles of Do-Re-Mi are “SANE”:


Active (Social Service/Contribution Activities)

Nonprofit, and

Enjoy (Enjoyment of Participants)

With the adoption of SANE as its motto, Do-Re-Mi seeks to grow into a nonprofit with the highest moral standards. Because of this, even though the enterprise has not yet been able to chart a fully concrete course, the work that it is currently carrying out has been enjoyable and rewarding.

Do-Re-Mi member Kim Kwang Lyul (age 60, former financial executive) stated, “I have never worked as happily as I am now. It is a feeling as though the world is newly opening.”

Do-Re-Mi’s first endeavor is microcredit consulting. The purpose of the microcredit endeavor is to enable people on the lower economic rung who have difficulty in obtaining financing from institutional lenders to become self-supporting and be able to obtain loans without providing a guaranty. Last year, the government’s associated/ budget stood at the two billion won level, but this year, due to the aftermath of market recession, its support has increased to more than twenty-five billion won.

This past June 10, Do-Re-Mi concluded a outsourcing contract with Social Solidarity Bank, the largest domestic microcredit support institution. Do-Re-Mi is also conducting an on the spot survey and propelling cooperation with other microcredit entities.

Director Park Yong Gyi (age 60, former corporate executive) stated that Do-Re-Mi’s possibilities are infinite and conveyed his gratitude to the Hope Institute which exerted efforts to arrange for its offices.

“Notwithstanding the fact that the enterprise is in its early stages, it appears that the interest in learning about Do-Re-Mi has been raised and expectations for it are high. There have also been requests for cooperation by other microcredit entities. We are presently working in close cooperation with Seoul City Self-Support Organizations Association, and are selecting from among the Hope Institute Small Business Development Center for feasible enterprises. We also plan to conduct management consulting. During this time, there were many difficulties due to lack of office space, but now that we have procured offices, our energies are pouring out. I want to thank once again Executive Director Park Won Soon and all those affiliated with the Hope Institute who gave us their help.”

Manual of “Happy Seniors” -- Filled with Passion for Social Contribution Service

In order to smoothly propel various enterprises in a short time, it is the plan to grow this organization, which falls under the Nonprofit Support Law and has fulfilled all the required legal conditions and has gained national recognition and support.

“We are assembling a genuine association of members and of persons who share our purpose of restoring socially-minded careers. At present, with a number of enterprises started up at the same time and even with twelve people engaged fully, we still lack human capital. Therefore, guaranteeing membership is crucial. Having been in operation for one month, the members’ passion is amazing. We are naturally being moved. We are heading towards becoming a thoroughly non-profit, voluntary organization.”

On this day, Hope Institute Advisor Chun Kyung Song (former Supreme Court Justice) encouraged Do-Re-Mi by stating that “At present, lawyers belonging to the Hwawoo Law Firm will be unsparing in providing legal support.” And office chief Yu Shi Ju stated, “Hope Do-Re-Mi is innovating individual lives and at the same time innovating society.” He further lent strength to Do-Re-Mi by adding, “I will hand down ten secret methods for getting along well with the young researchers at the Hope Institute who are overflowing with ideas.”

During the first week of July, Hope Do-Re-Mi members made their own rice rolls and set off on an outing to the Pyongchang-dong valley. They invited their members’ families, the people with whom they will spend together the second half of their lives, and other supporters. The event resulted in constructive support and was a good way to bond and share mutual affection in what was the venture’s inaugural commemorative event.

In the future, while walking in lock-step with its operational platform of raising the quality of seniors’ lives, achieving independence of one’s accord, working enjoyably and participating together, Do-Re-Mi hopes to reclaim a brighter tomorrow. Until the day it grows into the social enterprise representative of the Republic of Korea.

Written by: Jung In Suk / Happy Reporter

Photographs and Editing by: Lee Jae Heung/ Hope Institute Researcher

Translated by Hope Cori/ June 19, 2009

Member Recruitment: Regular Members – Donation of Funds by Seniors from Professional Occupations (3 million won per person)

Associate Members and Supporters Association Members also sought

Address: Seoul City, Chongro-gu, Pyongchang-dong 209-11, Vision Building, Hope Institute 4th floor

Telephone: (02) 379-9114

Representative: Mr. Han Suk Kyu, 010-5348-9515