Meet our Organizational Members
FEW’s activities are supported by various businesses, organizations, and networks that share the same vision and want to support FEW and its community.
WAHL+CASE is the recruitment division of EQIQ. We specialize in discovering, placing, and retaining the best talent for Tokyo’s most innovative companies. Our expertise, extensive networks and deep relations with the tech industry, especially startups, allow us to deliver world-class value to our candidates and clients.
Assistant Program Director
JMEC The Japan Market Expansion Competition is a unique and long-standing business training program in Tokyo that centers around a business plan writing competition. The dual objectives of the program are to strengthen the skills of up-and-coming executives, while assisting foreign companies doing business in Japan. JMEC is supported by 18 Chambers of Commerce in Japan and has been offering the program for the past 26 years. See what our FEW participants, Sabrina Hassanali and Ai Takada, reported about the program.
CEO & Founder
I got started as a short term rental and Airbnb host with Tokyo Family Stays almost by accident. It was 2010, my son had just been born. Plus, my parents and my friends were often coming to visit us in Tokyo. Our 2-bedroom apartment just didn’t have space for guests any longer. Finding suitable local accommodation nearby on Airbnb was a complete nightmare. Every time it was a gamble. Some places lacked facilities to make tea and coffee. Others had no cooking equipment so you couldn’t even prepare a simple breakfast. And beds were a problem too – my dad has had knee surgery so a futon to sleep on and cushion to sit on were just not good enough.
I realised renting a “second home” for family and friends made sense. At least I could provide proper beds and comfortable chairs! And I thought if I listed on Airbnb and had paying guests about half the time I <might> break even. That was what I was hoping for. So, you can imagine my utter surprise when there was a massive demand for my apartment. I’d picked a sensible-sized apartment and equipped it with everything my parents and friends would need. It certainly appealed to a lot of people because we were full immediately…
I was completely shocked at the success I was able to achieve in such a short time. I quickly learned a lot about what guests needed and wanted. I also drew on all my experience in both the hospitality industry and in customer service but also looked at the kind of people I had come across in all my years in Japan and thought about what they would want also. Since the age of 15 I’ve had lots of “customer facing” jobs. Not stuck in an office, but out there with the customers, talking to them and above all, listening. I’ve worked in cafes and bars, as well as retail stores and food service for large chains. I’ve picked up lots of techniques and knowledge for creating a perfect customer experience. It’s incredibly rewarding. And it’s very powerful. After all, people are really buying experiences, not products and services. Following the shocking success of my first little property, I added more. A lot more. Over the next 5 years I grew my business to 23 properties all over Tokyo: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Meguro, Taito, Suginami, Nakano, Chiyoda, Minato and Setagaya. It grew to a 7-figure business employing a team of 6 and kept us running off our feet. What a rush this was. We learned so much. We have now consolidated and focused on profit margins rather than simply revenue. So, I now run 10 key properties in 5 wards of Tokyo and can also consult on how best to grow a business or to close down a property at minimum loss and highest efficiency. I’ve had over 2500 groups at my properties since 2010. Usually 4-5 guests come, but I’ve had groups of up to 16. So, I’ve taken care of at least 12,000 guests over the past 8 years. I’ve had many magical moments as a host, and I’ve solved tons of problems.
CEO & Founder
Sasuga Communications K. K. supports high-potential and high-achieving managers and executives in Japan and beyond to perform at their best in global business through 1:1 coaching, workshops, and online programs.
Helen Iwata - also known as “The Less Effort More Impact Coach” - helps professional women in Japan and beyond to excel in their work without feeling exhausted, through the power of the Sasuga! Success Cycle.
Originally from England, Helen has lived and worked in Japan for over 30 years. After two decades in education, local government, and the corporate world, including 10 years with McKinsey, Helen established her own business in 2013 and is now obsessed with helping overworking women to use their time, energy, and expertise for less effort and more impact.
Helen served for 6 years as faculty for the Tokyo University Executive Management Program and won the 2017 Waseda University Teaching Award for her Strategic Thinking and Communication MBA course. She has been a popular speaker at women-related events, including at FEW, TEDx Roppongi, Nikkei's Woman Expo, Google's Womenwill, and the British and French Chambers of Commerce. She is also a Nikkei Woman Smart and Nikkei doors columnist, author of the Japanese book Eigo no Shigoto-jutsu, published by Shogakukan, and host of the Sasuga! Podcast (with over 200 episodes). Helen is a wife, mother, and… a karate world champion!
After participating in FEW as a member and speaker at multiple events since the 1990s, Helen took the next step to become a Corporate Member because she values FEW's mission to be the “go-to place for personal and professional learning, connection, and inspiration.” Helen is enthusiastic to help spread the word about what FEW offers for English-speaking women in Japan and to do what she can to support FEW's members.