Asia Foundation and Fondation CHANEL Launch Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative in Gyeonggi, Korea

Seoul, March 14, 2018 — The Asia Foundation is pleased to announce it has received support from Paris-based Fondation CHANEL under a brand-new AccelerateGrowth Initiative aimed at enhancing opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship in South Korea. Under this new collaboration, The Asia Foundation is launching a one-year research project with Gyeonggi Family & Women’s Research Institute that will examine the factors that inhibit or facilitate the creation of women-owned companies in the province. Following the research phase, the Foundation’s Korea office plans to partner with the Gyeonggi Job Foundation on a series of targeted training programs and activities with job centers in four cities in the region.

The new collaboration aligns with Fondation CHANEL’s focus area of advancing women’s and girl’s independence and empowerment. Together, The Asia Foundation and Fondation CHANEL are committed to improving access to economic opportunities for women and girls in Gyeonggi Province, the most industrialized region of South Korea. Despite the province’s high level of industrial development, the unemployment rate of women (second highest in the country) remains at 4.6% as of June 2017.

South Korea has undergone a dramatic economic transformation in recent decades, and The Asia Foundation has been on the ground for more than 60 years assisting in the transition. Notably, the Foundation recognizes that engaging women in the labor force is a key factor to unlocking long-term growth in Korea’s slowing economy. Entrepreneurship is one important way to create a flexible working environment that can allow for household responsibilities while supporting women’s economic participation.

“The Asia Foundation has worked very hard over the decades addressing women’s empowerment issues in Korea,” said The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in Korea Dylan Davis. “But with Korea ranking 118 among 144 countries surveyed as part of the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Gender Gap Report, we feel very strongly that there is still work to be done, especially on women’s economic participation. We are very pleased that we found the right partners, Fondation CHANEL and Gyeonggi Province, to address programming in this area. The highly industrialized Gyeonggi Province is the right region to better understand the opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship.”

The initiative will directly support women entrepreneurs in Gyeonggi Province by providing crucial data in support of promoting women-friendly policies, providing business training, and expanding access to networks.

“We are grateful to launch a joint research project focused on the improvement of women’s economic opportunities with The Asia Foundation supported by Fondation CHANEL,” said Han Ok Ja, president of Gyeonggi Family Women Research Institute. “Our institute has long been interested in establishing a foundation for women’s self-reliance, particularly by creating an enabling environment for women to work equally in the workplace.”

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

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Related locations: Korea
Related programs: Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality
Related topics: Women Entrepreneurs

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