Ruling Democratic Progressive Party legislator Karen Yu, a former entrepreneur, works hard to promote Taiwan’s startup ecosystem.
Aided by diplomats from the American Institute in Taiwan, she recently organized a forum for outstanding foreign businesswomen to share their experiences with professional Taiwanese women.
Promoting female role models encourages more women to both stay in the workplace and climb higher on their career ladders, Yu said.
“In the past few years, Japan has pushed forward a policy called 'womenomics' in response to the continuous decrease in its working population. Its goal is to enhance female participation in enterprises by raising the percentage of female business leaders to 30%,” Yu said.
“On the other hand, Taiwan also suffers from a low fertility rate and a brain drain. If we could encourage more female participation in the labor market, Taiwan’s economy would definitely benefit from this trend.”
In exclusive interviews, Business Next spoke with two of the forum’s speakers about their career paths and inspiring other people.
Don’t be afraid to be crazy…
Ari Horie is the founder and CEO of Women’s Startup Lab, a collective of influencers committed to creating a powerful supportive ecosystem that leverages connections in Silicon Valley to advance opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, once said that Horie’s venture is “so important,” while Horie herself has been named one of CNN’s 10 “Visionary Women” for 2014 and Silicon Valley Business Journal’s “Women of Influence in Silicon Valley” for 2015.
“Technology doesn’t discriminate. Therefore, we would like to bring opportunities to all people,” Horie said.
When asked by Business Next what her secret to success was, Horie replied: “Having a global mindset is important.”
“The invention of W.S.Lab is to help and to inspire more people, especially women, to unleash their potential.
“And for myself, I would say: ‘Don’t be afraid to be crazy!’”
Horie has visited Taiwan on more than one occasion.
“ W.S.Lab has different partners around the world. One of (our missions) is to go beyond Silicon Valley. So, Taiwan is a channel for us.
“There are lots of things we can do together, bringing more chances for the two sides,” Horie said.
Women can build a bridge between Taiwan and Vietnam
The other speaker was Cam-Van Bui, nicknamed “Van,” the COO of UP Co-working Space founded in Vietnam.
A graduate of the London School of Economics in the U.K., she joined the founding team of UP Co-working Space in 2016.
During the interview, she voiced hopes that she could make her company a bridge between Taiwan and Vietnam by creating startup events and the like that created interactions between the two sides.
As the largest coworking space in Vietnam, UP Co-working space operates in different locations and organizes events for the local communities. Speakers have included Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Echoing Horie’s “Don’t be afraid to be crazy” motto, Van said her biggest challenge with her company was learning so many new things.
“ After joining UP, I had to learn everything from the first step, such as financial statements and how to find talent.
“What I learnt from those experiences is to have an open-minded attitude,”
In conclusion, the DPP’s Yu said she hoped the forum could send a positive message to Taiwan’s people. She said she had worked very hard and pulled many strings to make the forum possible since it was a great opportunity for Taiwanese to learn from the experiences of prominent professional women.