When Ari Horie, a known advocate for women to lead and thrive in business, shared her vision of creating a foundation for both girls and women to pursue entrepreneurship in Japan, we knew Moon Creative Lab could help. Our visions for creating a more inclusive and robust center of innovation, creativity, and new business creation in Japan were absolutely aligned. This is what Moon Creative Lab was created to do – for Mitsui and beyond. We also knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Entrepreneurship itself is a very difficult (yet very rewarding) path. And in Japan, it’s even less common for women and girls. According to research by Tokyo Women in VC, 91% of venture capital (VC) firms in Japan have no female partners; 59% of VC funds have no women on their investment team; and 44% of funds do not have any women employees. In addition, only 13% of VC employees, 10% of actual VCs, and 3% of VC partners are women.
This is why Ari launched her new non-profit organization, the WSL Impact Foundation, Amelias’ program designed to build a foundation of support for high school girls and women throughout Japan. Partnering with cities like Kobe, Hokkaido, Sapporo, and Shibuya, the Amelias program offers education, workshops, mentoring, and networking opportunities with former and current entrepreneurs from Japan and Silicon Valley.
In July, Moon became a founding sponsor of the WSL Impact Foundation and we hosted an event for 60 women entrepreneurs at our Spring Terrace studio in Omotesando. This event was livestreamed at other locations in Japan including Shibuya, Kobe, and Sapporo to more than 130 women. The morning program featured guest speakers on entrepreneurship including Fujiyo Ishiguro, Kathy Matsui, Marc Nager, and Shayanne Wright. Moon’s CEO, Kaichi Yokoyama, gave an inspiring talk about how to “Think Crazy” to expand your business and your journey as an entrepreneur. He shared examples of how he did just that with the creation of Moon Creative Lab four years ago by bringing the best of Silicon Valley and Japan together to create new and innovative businesses that would have an exponential impact on Mitsui and the world. The concept of “thinking crazy” was a big theme for the Amelias program to encourage participants to think and act outside of their comfort zones.
In the afternoon, Moon led two Startup Design workshops – one at our Spring Terrace office in Omotesando and the other at nearby Shibuya Parco. Workshop participants learned about the importance of human-centered business design, the practical process to discover opportunities for innovation, and the importance of entrepreneur networking – especially for women.
Here’s what participants had to say about the Moon workshops:
“I had learned from reading books, but it was interesting because it was the first time for me to put it into practice.”
“I was able to experience the process of thought and the process of realization. A place where failure can be seen positively. I was able to experience that I was further brushed up by working as a team.”
“Good prototyping and pitch! Prototyping should be done quickly and without spending too much time and money. Also, I am very grateful for the pitch because I can't practice without this opportunity. By giving us the opportunity to review our value proposition, we were able to review our business more clearly. There were voices saying "be crazy" in various places, and it was good that I was able to think outside my own frame.”
Ari Horie’s vision for the Amelias program is to make entrepreneurship not only an acceptable path for girls, but a viable and desirable one. We at Moon Creative Lab are delighted to support this vision to help make it a reality. While there is still much to do to increase the numbers of women entrepreneurs in Japan, we are excited about the potential for the future.
To learn more about the WSL Impact Foundation Amelia's program, please visit: https://www.amelias.jp/
Mary Ann Gallo
Chief Marketing Officer
How HR applied human-centered design to create a new venture.
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