Entrepreneurs Make a Difference
Shape the community to raise children, and continue working in balance
Entrepreneurs take positive actions to make the world a better place. What motivates them? What do they recommend that we do? Learn how our panelists made the decision to start their own businesses, the actions they took, their visions for the future, and their missions to society.
Janelle Sasaki, Executive Director for Diversity and Inclusion Services and Gender Branding, Marketing, and Communications for EY Advisory & Consulting Co., in Japan, facilitated this session. With a few opening words about the power of women in the field of business and entrepreneurship, Ms. Sasaki kick-started the session by asking the panelists to share the struggles that shaped their accomplishments and who they are today.
Shannon Kalayanamitr, Co-founder of Orami, a South Asian e-commerce destination for women, began the discussion with how her family’s move back to Thailand at the age of 12 and her difficult childhood had a profound impact on her path to becoming a female entrepreneur.
Rubana Huq, Managing Director of Mohammadi Group and an entrepreneur of her own fabric business with her husband, shared with us the financial difficulties of her youth and her first years of marriage. Financially successful today, she still struggles to break the stereotype of what a wife must be to her family.
Natsuko Shiraki, CEO of her jewelry company, HASUNA (lotus in Japanese), revealed the shocking experience of witnessing poverty first-hand when visiting southern India decades ago, only to find that such poverty was universal. It motivated her to become an entrepreneur and give back to those in need.
Commenting on the United Nation’s “He for She” campaign, Ms. Huq disagrees, finding that “She for She” campaign would be far more inspirational; she believes women are each other’s greatest obstacles, and firmly believes that women must rise above together. Ms. Shiraki discussed the motivations of starting and sustaining a jewelry business that is ethical; it is environmentally friendly and strictly against abusive labor practices. Recalling the launch of one of her first factory partners in Rwanda, Ms. Shiraki explained the challenges of achieving high-quality production standards, as well as some fascinating backstories of her employees. She offered advice on how to manage both a family and a career as a female entrepreneur in Japan, specifically.
Ms. Kalayanamitr gave guidance on how to build networks and promote new companies. Based on her experience, she advised, “If you build a business that has a really deep meaning and passion, then you don’t have to hard-sell your business.” On a similar note, Ms. Huq added some tips on how to attract financial backing for start-ups. Ms. Shiraki, devoted to women-friendly work environments, offered ideas to help women balance their lives at home and at work.
Ms. Sasaki closed the Round Table session with a simple question about what’s next for them. Ms. Huq is striving to reach sustainability; Ms. Kalayanamitr aspires to achieve diversity, and Ms. Shiraki plans to support young entrepreneurs.
The Q&A session raised some insightful questions from the audience. To the working mothers in the audience, Ms. Shiraki said, “We can create that kind of community to raise children. I recommend you shape the community, and continue working in balance.” Ms. Huq’s powerful message had a deep impact on the audience: “Not even for half a second will you give into your fears. You are too young to be disappointed. It’s time for you to just dream and go forward.”