Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Women Entrepreneurs Should Go Global In China

It all started with a conversation I had over lunch with my African entrepreneur friend, just before his flight back to South Africa to conduct business. “I just worry that it’s easier for the Chinese government to do business in other countries than it is for individual entrepreneurs to do business in China.” This from a guy who has transacted business in Hong Kong.
He was referring to recent conversation amongst global entrepreneurs and the blogosphere regarding what has sometimes been referred to as the “Chinese Invasion.”
There have been talks surrounding China’s expansion into South America, and also allegations of unfair business ventures in Africa, where according to some economists, China “hoards African resources.”
I immediately thought of Internet mogul, Google.  Google caught its fair share of misfortunes when it branched to China about five years ago. In a country where dot-coms had no successful track records, the Internet guru’s ambition to go global in China was met with setbacks; mostly due to government regulations.

My first question to him, “what about women entrepreneurs with plans to go global? What do you think about the local business climate there for female entrepreneurs stepping out into the global Chinese market?”
His response: a mere shrug.
Chinese entrepreneurial success is frequently highlighted in America:  Entrepreneurs You Meet In China, Young Chinese Entrepreneurs To Watch, China’s Young Entrepreneurs Abroad. But what about the non-Chinese entrepreneurs wanting to partake in the success?
It’s estimated that by 2015, there will be 500 million people under 30 in China, and these young people are starting businesses. According to Fortune magazine, China has the highest number of the world’s richest people under age 40.
Last year it was reported by Credit Suisse that the income of their 20-somethings grew by 34% in three years. So I decided to learn more about women doing business in China.
I was immediately drawn to a statement made at the 2010 Business Mulan Annual Conference hosted by China Entrepreneur Magazine. Li Yifei, chairwoman of Vivaki (a part of the Publicis Groupe Greater China) was quoted suggesting that women entrepreneurs in China would be better off choosing the sectors in which they have a “natural advantage.” Media, advertising and fashion were a few mentioned.
What does this female natural advantage mean? If anything, the statement sounded condescending. I was a little distressed at this type of message being sent out, that in order to succeed at business in China, women should flock to a certain field.
While these industries are worthwhile, it is insulting to imply that women can only start or run a certain kind of business. I kept delving into the issue and ran across this: profiles of the richest self-made women in the world. And the article states that 11 of the top self-made women are from China! Bingo!
And no, these women are not targeting sectors where they have a “natural advantage.” They are running technology, manufacturing and professional services businesses. China also has  micro-financing initiatives to help women-owned start-up companies.
The Tianjin Women’s Business Incubator is one provider of such financing. The Tianjin Initiative is backed by the city government, Australia (although I’m not sure how Australia was included) and the United Nations Development Program. Program officials state that the program has helped over 10,000 women start-up businesses.
Another astounding piece of statistical data: at the Global Summit of Women in Beijing, it was reported that there are more women entrepreneurs in China than the entire United States population at 300 million. Perhaps there is a reason to ponder the growth plans of China after all.
The country has an increasing rate of young entrepreneurs (who are studying  American business giants like Bill Gates and Michael Dell), its women entrepreneur base is increasing at a fast pace, and they’re quickly developing initiatives to foster more entrepreneurship.
Women Doing Business in China: I was still pondering the question: what about non-Chinese women wanting to do business in China? Then I ran across an  important initiative that showcases China’s plan for women in business. This U.S. and China collaboration: The US-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue (Women-LEAD). Just recently announced by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and China State Councilor Liu, the initiative will seek to expand the dialogue between Chinese and American programs that seek to empower women and foster cross-country women business development.
It’s official! The “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits” is coming together. And you know what that means. Watch out for China! My only hope is that the opportunities available for Chinese female entrepreneurs doing business in America or abroad will also be the same available for American or foreign female entrepreneurs going global in China.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jamba Lands Star Franchise Partner: Venus Williams

The Franchise Handbook: A Complete Guide to All Aspects of Buying, Selling or Investing in a FranchiseJamba Juice announced that tennis star Venus Williams has joined the company as a franchise partner and will help the brand enter the Washington, D.C., market. James White [9], chairman, president, and CEO of Jamba Juice [10], told QSR in an exclusive interview that the Williams family had been fans of the brand in their native California, and that Jamba has been in discussion with the camp for the last year about a partnership.  “The D.C. marketplace was a high priority for us because of the makeup of the consumer opportunity that we saw there,” White says. “We thought that Venus would be the ideal partner; she epitomizes, from our vantage point, a person that leads a healthy, active lifestyle. She’s one of the most recognized athletes on the planet, so we couldn’t think of a better partner to enter the D.C. marketplace with.”  The deal with Williams calls for five stores in the next two years in the D.C.-Maryland market. The first store is slated to open in the summer.  White says the D.C. marketplace will be used as a launch pad for further East Coast growth, and that the brand has plans to grow in Connecticut and Boston. In the meantime, Jamba Juice plans to promote health and wellness activities through Williams’ D.C. stores, White says.  Williams, who has won 41 Women’s Tennis Association titles and seven Grand Slams in her career—and whose sister, Serena, is also a tennis star—was looking for entrepreneurial opportunities, White says. A mutual acquaintance of Jamba Juice and the Williams camp introduced the two parties.
“I have been a long-time fan of Jamba Juice and its mission to help inspire and simplify healthy living,” Williams said in a statement from the company. “Regardless of the venue—whether I am on the tennis court or on an interior design project—keeping fit and eating healthy are critical to ensuring I maintain peak performance.  “Jamba offers a fantastic line-up of tasty, better-for-you products that I can feel good about eating. I am excited to be a part of Jamba and, through that partnership, to be bringing a healthy lifestyle brand to the D.C. metro area that can offer others an easy way to maintain their focus on staying active and eating right.”  White says Jamba Juice is a good fit for athlete partnerships because of its healthy, active brand image. Former National Basketball Association star LaPhonso Ellis is a franchisee in South Bend, Indiana, and the brand has a partnership with the Women’s National Basketball Association, as well.  “It’s a business [athletes] understand, it’s a product they love and use, so it’s a natural fit for us to have this kind of relationship with an athlete like Venus Williams,”   White says.  There are no plans for Williams to act as a spokeswoman for Jamba Juice, White says, but he expects the relationship with the tennis star to grow in the coming years.

By Sam Oches

Friday, April 22, 2011

After spending last weekend in Baltimore at Start-up Weekend, I thought this article would make for some interesting reading to help people understand that tech sectors are hiring but you have to know your stuff and you have to know the industry.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Living Your Perfect Life

Embracing Change: Using the Treasures Within YouSo often we live our lives according to someone else's plan.  I did The Ms. Boss Show this morning and the topic that came to me was designing your perfect life.  I started to wonder why was it so hard for people to do that, then I looked at some of the reasons that I wasn't fully living my life by design and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.  The first thing you must do in designing your perfect life is to become clear about what that life looks like.  what does it entail.  What do you do for a living?  Where do you live?  What do you drive?  Where do you dine?  Where do you vacation?  Where does your children go to school?  What are your hobbies?  What are your dreams?  I think you get the picture.  The next thing you is to put all of these things on paper and get them out of your head.  The next thing you must do is identify the problems in your life and find a solution for them.  Stop complaining and whining.   This one is a biggie.  Don't be afraid of change.  Change is emminent.  It is going to happen anyway.  So just embrace the idea of change and move on.  I know that this is easier said than done, but it is a must if you want to live your life by your own personal design. 

So I hope that you draw some inspiration from my words.  I heard this phrase in a song and I want to share it with you before I close.  "Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives."  I thought that was so powerful and so true.  Start living your new life today.

Until Next Time
Make It A Great Day!