The “Link-in with Asia: Australia-Taiwan Women Entrepreneur Network” (ATWEN) is an exciting Australia-Taiwan Business Council (ATBC) initiative launched with assistance from the Austrade offices at Canberra and Taipei. ATWEN will empower Australian women in business and enhance their access and influence in the Chinese-speaking world. It will build innovative and business-driven connections and networks with women organisations and entrepreneurs in Taiwan and China. ATWEN will further strengthen Australia’s presence in Asia.
Australia recently had its first woman Prime Minister and first woman Governor General; the deputy leaders of both major political parties are women. Australia’s richest person is the woman mining magnate, Ms Gina Rinehart. Taiwan, like Australia an island democracy with a population of 23 million, also has a large number of women in high profile positions. The Chair of successful smartphone maker HTC is Ms Cher Wang. Another outstanding woman is Dr Tsai Ing-Wen, Chair of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party. The proliferation of successful women has put the issue of women in leadership and women in business at the forefront of media attention.
Besides individual success stories, both countries have strong networks supporting women entrepreneurs at the small and medium enterprise level. These networks guide women as they build new businesses. They give women the confidence and skills needed to succeed in challenging business environments. They play an important role in empowering women.
What is missing is a network that empowers women across cultures. A network that helps women expand their businesses internationally. A network that gives women the skills and knowledge to succeed in culturally different business environments. By connecting female entrepreneurs across the Australian, Taiwan and China markets, ATWEN fills a big gap. ATWEN enhances the networks, access, influence and prosperity of Australian businesswomen in the Sino-sphere – mainly Taiwan and China – and of their counterparts in Australia.
ATWEN has four components. Each performs a different function, but all are designed to foster exchanges between women entrepreneurs in Australia, Taiwan and China. The first is ATWEN web based infrastructure. The ATWEN website and social media includes information on upcoming events and success stories and will be a portal for the internship and mentor programs. Second, the mentor program, matching successful women entrepreneurs in Taiwan with budding entrepreneurs in Australia: through a dedicated and fully supported mentoring program, Australian and Taiwan women will gain confidence to launch their business in each other’s countries. Third, the internship program will send high achieving university students and recent graduates to Taiwan to intern at leading companies – and Taiwan interns to Australia – developing person-to-person relations for future women business leaders. Fourthly, forums will be held in Taipei and Beijing in March 2015 and Sydney in April 2015. These forums will include panel presentations by successful businesswomen on how to succeed in business in Australia and Asia.
The ATWEN project is playing an important role in fostering women entrepreneurship and enhancing the role of women in business in Australia and across the Sino-sphere. ATWEN will give women the confidence to succeed and thrive in the Asian Century!