In focus: Schemes and incentives for women entrepreneurs in Japan
Japan has many plus points – high GDP, low unemployment and a great workforce, and most prominently, the business environment is very friendly to entrepreneurs. Japanese people are very passionate about collaborating and lending a helping hand in business, which means that they extend strong support to new businesses.
Another significant factor is that the Japanese economic system favours the emergence of female entrepreneurship. Today, Japan has an important role in the global economy. And, the Japanese economic system has the back of women, who take an active part in the business world. Startups can ignite economic growth through innovation in Japan. Dynamic entrepreneurism can help take care of some societal challenges Japan faces – from rapid aging to sustainable farming.
In a country, known for its entrepreneurship, the Japanese government assists startup companies with many different forms of support, including loans and tax credits. If you want to get started on an entrepreneurship journey in Japan, there are many resources online for steering your business idea.
With startups already representing more than fringe businesses in Japan, greater normalization of entrepreneurism can help unlock more innovation which can further boost Japan’s position. With entrepreneurship a growing industry in Japan, budding entrepreneurs are taking the traditional route and trying to start companies instead of joining established companies.
There are many different entrepreneurial programs that can help you launch your own business in the country.
> The Acceleration Program in Tokyo for Women (APT Women)
The Acceleration Program in Tokyo for Women is directed at entrepreneurs who are ready to take their operations overseas. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is changing this for Japanese women entrepreneurs, who want to scale their businesses internationally. It does this through the Acceleration Program in Tokyo for Women (APT Women).
Being part of Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s new ventures support section, it is building a successful startup ecosystem that caters to all sectors of society. Besides, APT Women added diversity to the Japanese tech ecosystem, for technologies developed by different groups of a society can help serve everyone.
All this is part of the government’s objective – to continue empowering Japanese women, who have started their own businesses and would like to see them go global. The program helps them become role models for aspiring women entrepreneurs.
> Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi)
The launch of Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative was in 2017, on the occasion of G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. It was attended by the head of a state or its representative of 13 countries including Japan (others are Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States). World Bank Group President Kim attended this launch event, and he had announced that the pledge from these participating countries added up to over US＄325 million. Japan would contribute US ＄50 million to this Initiative.
This Initiative aimed at helping women entrepreneurs and women-led SMEs in developing countries to overcome the challenges (financial access, legal systems, etc) they face. Based on the Initiative, a facility was established in the World Bank.
Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a facility that aimed at helping women entrepreneurs and women-led SMEs in developing countries to overcome the challenges (financial access, legal systems, etc.) they face. We-Fi provides financial assistance to women entrepreneurs and women-led SMEs, advisory service to financial institutions to facilitate greater use of women entrepreneurs and technical assistance to help governments lower legal and regulatory barriers.
> Women Entrepreneurs Center ((DBJ-WEC)
In 2011 the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) launched the Women Entrepreneurs Center (DBJ-WEC) aiming to promote economic and social revitalization as well as structural reform through women’s entrepreneurship. The DBJ is also the largest donor to the Japan Economic Research Institute (JERI) who established the similarly named Women Entrepreneurs Center (JERI-WEC) and launched a project to provide comprehensive support for women’s entrepreneurial activities.
In 2017 the DBJ-WEC and JERI-WEC started working together, to support women entrepreneurs who are taking on the challenge of turning their passion into business, in tandem with experts and local residents. The Women Entrepreneurs Center’s main activity was to hold the DBJ Women’s New Business Plan Competition to provide women with support for brushing up their business plans.
> Japan Finance Corporation (JFC)
Women’s Startup Support Fund JFC is a public corporation, wholly owned by the Japanese government. This was established on October 1, 2008, as the result of the merger of four policy-based financing institutions. They offer a special fund for women, young people and seniors who are starting new businesses.
> Startup Lady Japan
Startup Lady Japan offers many options to boost entrepreneurship. A range of activities are rooled out – like workshops, presentations and community-building programs for women and LGBTQI+ entrepreneurs who are already starting their own businesses.
> ASEAN-Japan Women Entrepreneurship Linkage Program
This is a platform for women entrepreneurs to push their business development by building a network with supporting companies, mentors and other women entrepreneurs from the region.
> Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative JWLI
This is a two-year program that invests in Japanese women. The objective is to transform them to be action-oriented leaders. Included in the program is taking the participants to Boston, where they will draw up an action business plan and follow an intensive entrepreneurial management program.
> Femmes Actives Japon FAJ
Femmes Actives Japon FAJ is a French association, based at the French Embassy in Tokyo. It supports women in their professional journey at every stage and in all sectors, through offering workshops, events, networking opportunities and mentorship. Sharing their experiences, has helped many women start their own businesses or even launch careers.
> Josei shachō (Japanese website)
Launched in 2007, Josei shachō is the largest database site for women entrepreneurs in Japan. It provides information that is useful to women entrepreneurs throughout the country.