A Story of M. Isidore

To meet a high demand (?), I translated my blog post "イジドールさんについて" into English.



Isidore is a person with amazing vitality.

Let’s say, if a boat was wrecked and we reached to a small uninhabited island where life is so hard that people can easily die in three days.


Isidore would;

calm himself down immediately,

go to find foods,

create tools,

go hunting,

build a house with driftwood,

create rice fields and irrigate there,

and finally start some business…

He is a kind of man I surely say that he would do all of that.

Isidore is a Cameroonian who has terrific capacities mentally, physically, and intellectually.


By the way, did I mention who is Isidore?

He is my colleague during the internship at JICA (Japanese International Cooperate Agency). Both of us are working for the monitoring an following-up of “KAIZEN” project. This is a JICA’s project of private sector development, especially for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in case of Cameroon. KAIZEN is a Japanese word meaning continuous improvement of quality and productivity. This idea was originally developed by TOYOTA in its production and quality control process.

Isidore was trained as a KAIZEN consultant during the 1st phase of the project which trained 40 Cameroonian consultants to be able to work individually for installing KAIZEN in local SMEs. Although the 1st phase was finished and the expert team left Cameroon this summer, he has been hired by JICA because of his significant performance during the project.

Also, I luckily got an internship position for private sector development in Cameroon as I wished. So two of us started working together during the transitional period between the end of the 1st phase and the beginning of the 2nd phase. 

We are visiting each SME which participated to KAIZEN project, and doing follow-up activities including the meeting with the CEO and quality managers, conducting monitoring questionnaire, giving presentation, observing production line, and meeting with KAIZEN committee etc.


Three months have passed since I met Isidore, and I have been continuously impressed by his performance.


Powerful presentation skills

Especially, his powerful presentation is amazing and it changes many employees’ mind.

In each company, we take time to make a presentation to remind the idea of KAIZEN and “positive attitude” which is also a critical factor to achieve a successful KAIZEN.

In the presentation, he strongly persuades and motivates employees, by encouraging them to speak and think. Since he makes every effort to make the audience to understand, sometimes he can be very strict. After the presentation, I heard many of employees said, “there are still many things we can do” or “I am just very motivated.” Also, since many CEOs of the SMEs are struggling to motivate their staff, they appreciate to Isidore very much for helping that.

He is so energetic while he keeps speaking without drinking water!

He never compromises!

Powerful presentation


Gratitude for KAIZEN

Isidore often tell me that

“I truly thank Japanese government, JICA and KAIZEN expert team who introduced KAIZEN to Cameroon which changes the country. Since I was hired as a consultant, I can support my family’s living.”

Even if he didn’t have this job, I am sure he can find a great position in another company. In fact, he was working for a private company for seven years and promoted to a quality manager which is the second highest position in the company. The job was secured and it provided good insurance. But he resigned the job when he decided to take the KAIZEN training, while no job contract was expected as a KAIZEN consultant at that time. Since he has family with small kids, the decision was not very easy to made. But he wanted to do something which can have impacts on the society.

I also know he was recently offered some other jobs which can pay higher salary than current contract.

But he is so modest that he says “I got those kind of offers because I was involved to the KAIZEN project. So I want to work for this project for longer period to learn as much as possible.”


Fifty-Four Siblings

Let me tell you about some of the Isidore’s background.

He is from a village in Western Cameroon. His father has huge area around the village including a mountain with coffee trees. He got married with many women and has 55 children including Isidore. Moreover, Isidore is the biggest brother among all the siblings. Isidore became independent from his parents when he was only eleven, but he has been relied by many of his family members.

On the other hand, he loves his only wife forever. He has four children between him and his wife, and two  adopted children.

I was invited to his house with a big yard, and had a great time with his family.


Meeting with employees


Isidore is also very gentle.

Since his ability is extremely high, I often think my contribution to our activities is too small.

However, he always respects my opinion, and cares if my life in Cameroon is going well. He carefully looks the situation around him and notice small changes. I guess one of the reason is the fact that he is the biggest brother of 55 children and cares how everyone is doing…

He also helps me to practice French conversation. He nicely corrects my grammar and I’m learning a lot every day.



Isidore is also extremely patient even when the situation is a bit frustrating.

For example, we face a lot of challenges of punctuality.

We usually schedule an appointment 1-2 weeks before the visit, and on the day before the visit, a phone call to remind the visit is made too. However, we often have to wait for a while when we arrived at the companies on time. Sometimes we arrive at 9:00 and are told that the CEO would come around noon.

I’m trying not to be discouraged too much for these things, but sometimes it continuously happens and I can be frustrated, thinking “should we really wait for him/her?”

But Isidore is so patient that he waits for them because he knows anyway we need to talk to the CEOs to achieve the objectives of KAIZEN.

On the other hand, he is not just like “no problem!” to the non-punctual company when the CEO appears, but he makes it clear that this is not acceptable if the company really wants KAIZEN.

This comes from his gentleness and passion to train and improve the company.


So, these are some of the introductions of Isidore.

Of course, we have different background, experience, gender, age, and many others. So naturally we have different perspectives on many things. But we can always discuss anything.

He is a person I respect from the bottom of my heart.


I am really grateful to JICA for giving me this fantastic opportunity to work with Isidore, and

to KAIZEN expert team for training Isidore to be an outstanding consultant.

(although it was not for me, obviously…)

And above all,

Merci beaucoup Isidore!

(and for allowing me to publish this blog post!)


(From the left) Isidore, his wife, his mom, me, his best friend