I applied and earned a Monbukagakusho MEXT Scholarship, which provided me with the unique and wonderful opportunity to research female entrepreneurship and empowerment in Japan. As this was part of my initial application, it has since evolved since arriving in Japan. Nevertheless, it is a good framework and starting point for my chosen area of research.
I plan on conducting a comparative study of female entrepreneurship in Tokyo and Silicon Valley with a focus on socioeconomic and political trends.
A good place to begin contacting female entrepreneurs in Japan is the Women Entrepreneurs Center run by the Development Bank of Japan. Both the finalists and judges have a wealth of experiences and knowledge about developing businesses in the Japanese context. Prior to arriving in Japan, I will begin connecting with people associated to the program.
While keeping abreast with recent government policies, I will research publications by professors at the leading universities in entrepreneurship education such as Waseda University, Keio University, Ritsumeikan University and Nihon University.
Professors such as Hironori Higashide at Waseda University have expertise in entrepreneurship, venture capitalism, and technology management. Professors at these universities tend to have experience working in multinational corporations and have studied abroad, giving them a more globalized perspective. Another professor who has written specifically about Japanese female entrepreneurship is Philippe DeBroux at Soka University. I will do my best to meet him.
Once I am in Japan, I will visit the Waseda Incubator Center, a place that assists new startups, and Keio Fujisawa Innovation Village, a facility that supports venture entrepreneurs. Through meeting professors, visiting incubators, and contacting Japanese female entrepreneurs, I will amass more information on additional existing resources such as networking groups and upcoming conferences.
From there, I can attend events, gain more exposure to the current entrepreneurial environment, and begin conducting in-depth interviews. Based on the research and literature I review and the interviews I conduct, I will gain a stronger sense of the current socioeconomic and political factors that are both hindering and supporting the growth of female entrepreneurship.
By combining the Japanese research I conduct with the interviews of Silicon Valley female entrepreneurs, I can identify ways in which the top success factors can be applied in the Japanese context through socioeconomic policies. For example, if networking made a dramatic impact in Silicon Valley, then the Japanese government could work with prominent associations to develop female-centered networking organizations similar to Women 2.0.