Tokyo, Japan – The pandemic has been a tough setback for small businesses globally and especially in Japan with the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The latest data shows that 87% of women business owners globally have been adversely affected by the pandemic. This adds to a preexisting difficult climate in Japan for women entrepreneurs who are among the lowest within the G7 countries (4.4%. Around 22% of women in Japan aspire to own their own businesses but only 5.3% of businesses are actually owned by women.

Such a current state among women entrepreneurs in Japan, especially in Tokyo, has led to global skincare brand SK-II to focus its latest campaign to create a much-needed spotlight on a community that has been highly impacted by the pandemic—women-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs in Tokyo.

Titled ‘Beyond The Stadium’, the campaign depicts a much-needed spotlight on a community that has been highly impacted by the pandemic—women-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs in Tokyo. The campaign, narrated by long-standing brand ambassador and Japanese actress Kaori Momoi, features the stories of Olympic athletes such as gymnast Simon Biles and surfer Mahina Maeda, as well as select women entrepreneurs in Tokyo, ranging from owners of a flower shop, a Japanese rice ball store, and a jewelry store.

Created alongside creative agency Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore, said campaign juxtaposes struggles faced by Olympic athletes in pursuing their dreams with the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and small business owners in Tokyo over the past year which has been amplified by the lack of anticipated visitors for the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Speaking about the creative process, Susanna Fagring, CEO at Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore, stated that in their long-standing relationship with SK-II, they tried to encourage women to stand up for their dreams and fight for their goals in life. Despite that, looking back at the past year with all its challenges, this is something easier said than done, according to her.

“The campaign shows that stories from Olympic athletes are actually not that different from stories of female entrepreneurs in Tokyo. They were all hoping for their big moments, be it inside or outside of the arena, and now they all need our cheering and support. Now we are hoping to create support for the female business community in Tokyo. In the wake of the loss of anticipated visitors to the Olympic Games, they need it more than ever,” Fagring said.

Meanwhile, Markus Strobel, president of skin and personal care at P&G, commented that in these unprecedented times we are in, consumers have a much higher expectation towards brands and businesses, adding that they know that they have an even larger social responsibility to the communities they operate in and be a force for good.

Strobel’s statement echoes the widespread campaign SK-II has launched recently, including a ‘virtual city’ featuring the stores of these women entrepreneurs in Tokyo. Such slew of campaigns lives up to the brand purpose of SK-II: #CHANGEDESTINY.

“#CHANGEDESTINY is at the heart of our brand purpose at SK-II. For years, we have celebrated how destiny is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice through the stories of courageous women around the world. With the launch of ‘Beyond the Stadium’ and our virtual shopping street within SK-II City, we are taking yet another step forward in our #CHANGEDESTINY journey,” Strobel said.

He added, “It means a lot to us to be able to continue to support women-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs to keep their dreams alive in these challenging times in Tokyo as the Worldwide Partner of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

In line with this, SK-II dedicates its #CHANGEDESTINY FUND to a program to support women-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs impacted by the pandemic in Tokyo. Proceeds from the #CHANGEDESTINY FUND, worth US$500k will go towards a year-long program supporting women-owned small business and entrepreneurs in Tokyo with Shibuya City and MEETALK—a Tokyo-based women entrepreneurship network to equip them with digital and social skills, business networks, and platform to build and keep the business of their dreams alive in these unprecedented times.