- 2011 Tohoku earthquake lead Founder to start a business; an initiative to help Japanese mums and inspired by women’s difficulties in the workforce
- Waris Co. Ltd. is a niche online job matching company that connects professional skilled women with Japanese companies
- Waris’ mission is to help women get back into the workforce, start freelancing or become an entrepreneur
- Site has over 3,500 registered members with professional skillsets, at an average age of 38yo
- Traditionally Japan’s work environment hostile to women’s career
- Importance of recent help from the government to make things easier, and the appearance of a favourable start-up ecosystem in Japan
How This Startup is Getting Japanese Moms Back to Work: www.waris.co.jp
Japan is undergoing a real working revolution (hatarakikata kaikaku). In addition to the increasing number of start-ups operating in Japan’s business environment, the number of freelancers and independent contractors is growing at the same pace. The latter is particularly appealing for women in their 20’s or 30’s to move towards a freelance lifestyle, and recent comments from politicians support both women returning to work and freelancers place in the economy.
Waris is a start-up founded in 2013 by three women, including Miwa Tanaka. After the 2011’s earthquake Miwa realised that life is short and can be destroyed in the blink of an eye, so she decided to do what she really wanted to do. She has been inspired by her previous experience as a writer for Nikkei Women during which she found out about the Japanese women face returning to the workforce through interviewing them for the magazine.
Sharing her desire to help women with the other founders, they decided to create Waris – an online job matchmaking company that connects professional skilled women with Japanese companies.
Due to both historical cultural aspects, and the social and financial pressure in Japanese society, women are not able to conduct their career as easily as men. However these days it is the typical, long working hours expected in Japan that usually turns out to be the main difficulty. Traditionally, women cannot have a child and continue working without experiencing major challenges, since many companies do not hire women after they have given birth.
That is why Waris’ mission is to help those women to get back into the Japan workforce, start freelancing or become an entrepreneur, enabling them to also build a more flexible schedule for themselves.
To solve the problem, Waris matches companies with flexible work schedules (mostly start-ups) with women who want to get back to work. This way Waris can be a temporary and important first step for them, before going back to working full time if that is what they want (about 10% of surveyed members). Additionally, Waris helps women freelancers to get more jobs and new clients, which is important as women generally have a smaller network than male freelancers.
The start-up ecosystem is steadily growing in Japan, which also creates a favourable environment for the company. Even the Japanese government is trying to change Japan’s working style by changing some rules and encouraging new ways of doing business. Thereby, the number of female entrepreneurs and female engineers is steadily growing.
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