by Liz Austin

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan, we’re partnering with Mercy Corps to invest $2 million to help rebuild micro and small-sized businesses in the affected areas.

NVIDIA and Mercy Corps, together with support from Tokyo-based PlaNet Finance Japan, will provide startup grants for new businesses, employment subsidies for existing businesses to rehire previous employees and loan subsidies for businesses to cover capital expenses.  We’re hoping that these investments over the next two years will help get hundreds of people back to work.

This partnership is an extension of work that began just after the March 11 disaster struck. In the weeks directly following, NVIDIA and its employees raised $2.75 million to provide much-needed help to the people of Japan.  Some $500,000 was immediately directed to global aid organizations for relief efforts, followed by another $250,000 to Mercy Corps to provide mental health support for affected children through an art-therapy program for kids.

Given the large sums being directed to the immediate relief efforts from companies and individuals, we felt our remaining funds would have the most impact if focused on a rebuilding program.  After months of searching, we saw this project as a way to combine our culture of giving and entrepreneurial spirit.  Watch this video to learn more about our partnership with Mercy Corps and the impact this small business recovery program is having:

NVIDIA is deeply connected to Japan — our employees and their families live there; our customers and partners operate there.  When news of this disaster spread, our employees immediately wanted to help.  From this desire to make a difference, we created “Operation Kizuna,” our program to respond to the tragedy.

The Japanese word “kizuna” means bond of love and friendship, and Operation Kizuna is our opportunity to give back to a country that has meant so much to us.

We’ll be following the progress of the businesses helped, so check back monthly for the latest updates.