Insider Intel on the Japan Market Expansion Competition


When the opportunity to apply for a Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC) scholarship through FEW arose, FEW members Jane Szafraniec (pictured center left) and Nina Cataldo (pictured center) jumped at the opportunity.

To understand the full extent of why this was such an amazing space to be in, they’ve shared what JMEC is, their experiences in the program, and advice for future participants.

If you’re interested in following in Jane and Nina’s footsteps, keep reading below for a very special scholarship offer – expiring October 10, 2018 – for FEW Members!

What is JMEC?

Brief Description

The Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC), often called a “Mini MBA”, is a business training program in Japan designed to foster the development of foreign businesses (project clients) in Japan while strengthening the business skills of up-and-coming executives (participants).


Initiated by the Australian & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan in 1993, JMEC is based on the New South Wales Enterprise Workshop. Currently, the program is supported by eighteen foreign chambers of commerce in Japan, representing the countries of America, Australia & New Zealand, Austria, Belgium & Luxembourg, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland (represented by Enterprise Ireland), Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland. The program also receives corporate sponsorship from members of the business community within Japan.

Nuts and Bolts

JMEC can be divided into two parts:

  1. Full day lectures held every Saturday for two months. The lectures are designed to give you business advice and knowledge for the rest of the program.
  2. Creation of a high-quality business plan. Participants are placed into teams of 4-6 people from various backgrounds and assigned to a client, which is a foreign company that is already established in Japan or not yet established in Japan and wants to enter the Japanese market. The teams then spend the next few months researching their client’s industry in the Japanese market and ultimately deliver a high-quality business plan for JMEC judges and the team’s client.

FEW Member Experiences


Although JMEC is a huge time and work commitment, it was extremely rewarding and well worth all the hours I spent on it.

Jane was assigned to a client based in Germany. The client was so invested in this project that they flew her entire team to its headquarters in January.

My client had a particularly niche product they wanted to bring to Japan so the time we spent understanding their operations and production first-hand in Germany was invaluable. We were able to return to Tokyo with a clear understanding of their product, which helped with our research and enabled my team to have informed discussions with people in Japan about the client’s industry. In the end, we knew more than we could have ever imagined about an industry we had no previous knowledge of!


JMEC was truly a blood, sweat, tears, and joy type of experience. We were told from the beginning that it’s not easy, but it’s only once you’re deep in your team and client’s work do you recognize what those hardships are – many of which were different from what I imagined them to be.

As a young professional and an aspiring entrepreneur, this program gave me the tools and connections beyond my imaginations. I came face-to-face with admirable and reputable speakers, and gained lifelong connections within the 70 participants of JMEC 24.

The colorful demographic of my teammates and cohort gave me insight into diversity in the workplace as well as the challenges and successes presented in communication.

In regards to my team’s project, I especially enjoyed learning about the market research process, conducting surveys and focus groups.

FEW Member Advice


I cannot stress the importance of communication and connection in JMEC.

The mentors and directors of the program go above and beyond to make sure the participants have rewarding experiences. The more I communicated with them through each step, the more feedback and knowledge I received. This is important – most of all – in the teams. You’ll be spending months of long days and nights with them so be sure to be open and understanding while finding ways to voice your own opinions and ideas with them as well.

FEW has again partnered with JMEC to offer one full scholarship and two partial scholarships for FEW Members, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.


  1. Read the JMEC Program Flyer
  2. Join JMEC info sessions in September and October
  3. Reach out to our Sponsorship Director, Bianca Himmelsbach, when you are ready to sign up

The deadline for applying to the FEW Member scholarship is October 10th.