Taking On the Entrepreneurial Gender Gap


Female Entrepreneurs and Executives from 12 Asia Pacific Nations
Exchange Ideas with Hawai‘i Businesswomen and Students

HONOLULU (July 21, 2014) – A group of women entrepreneurs and senior executives from 12 Asia Pacific countries are currently in Hawai‘i to exchange ideas with local women leaders and students on leadership skills and the global gender gap in innovation and entrepreneurship, in an East-West Center professional exchange presented in partnership with UH Manoa’s Shidler College of Business.

The 13 participants in EWC’s two-week 2014 Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Seminar are focusing on the theme of “Women as Innovators and Entrepreneurs: Generating Job Creation and Strengthening Communities.”  

Participants visit Ocean Vodka Distillery on Maui.“What we see in terms of statistics and research is that today women are generally attending colleges and graduate school in much higher numbers than men, and they are certainly engaged in the work force, but we don’t see that reflected as much in terms of women starting their own enterprises,” said Changing Faces coordinator Liz Dorn. “This gender gap is part of the reason it’s so essential to foster women as entrepreneurs, and that’s why this year we’re particularly excited to be partnering with the UH business school to provide our participants with several days of intensive entrepreneurial training.”

The seminar participants, who hail from China, Fiji, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Vietnam and the United States, represent diverse businesses and institutions in such areas as social policy, communications, tourism, wellness and employment services.

As part of the program, each of the participants has been paired with a local Hawai‘i host-mentor, and in turn the participants themselves will be sharing their leadership experience and exploring issues of entrepreneurship and community development with 30 Sacred Hearts Academy students.

The seminar participants have also been meeting with a variety of local businesswomen and community leaders and taking field trips to organizations such as Pacific Gateway Center, Our Kaka‘ako, Becker Communications and Energy Excelerator. Over the weekend, the group visited Maui, including site visits to the Maui Economic Development Board, Ali‘i Kula Lavender Farm and Ocean Vodka Distillery.

A collaborative leadership exercise at EWC.About the Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Seminar:

Launched in 2002, the Changing Faces Women's Leadership Seminar brings together innovative women entrepreneurs from the United States and the Asia-Pacific region to enhance their entrepreneurial capacity and leadership skills, strengthen societies through the pursuit of social entrepreneurship, and develop a community of women leaders. During the 12-day seminar, participants engage in a series of leadership and entrepreneurial training workshops and also expand their knowledge of economic growth, leadership and community building through select field visits and meetings with experts, practitioners, business owners and policymakers on O‘ahu and Maui. Finally, the seminar provides training and consultative sessions to help participants formulate a concrete action plan for a project that they can implement when they return home.

Changing Faces 2014 Participants:

  • Cherry Faye Al-Ag, Owner & General Manager, CFBA Travel Station and Elysia Massage and Wellness Spa, Davao City, Philippines
  • Ritusmita Biswas, Founder & Owner, Wordsmith Writing Services, Kolkata, India
  • Zefora Bosongan, Owner & Manager, Guinzadan Inabe, Bauko, Philippines
  • Anna Guenther, CEO, PledgeMe Limited, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Katherine Ho, President, Bright Stars Special Needs Charity Association, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Heather Huddleston, Founder & President, Business Infusion, Inc. San Diego, California, United States
  • Josephine Kenni, Director, Sepik Village Tours, Angoram District, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
  • Molly Marita, Founder, All for Employment Services and Co-Project Coordinator, Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA), Honiara, Solomon Islands
  • Van Anh Nguyen, Chairwoman of the Foundation Committee, Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Maria Ronna Luna Pastorizo-Sekiguchi, Managing & Creative Director, The Greenhouse Studio, Suva, Fiji
  • Gandolgor Purevjav, Founder & CEO, Ganabell Institute, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • Weilin Shi, Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF China, Beijing, China
  • Noelle Takahashi, Vice Chairman of Policy Commission, Tokyo Junior Chamber International, Tokyo, Japan

 For more information, visit EastWestCenter.org/ChangingFaces.