Owners of smaller firms in Japan have struggled for years to hand their businesses off to a buyer or successor. Teamshares, an American startup with backing from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, is seeking to change that by offering financing for workers to become stakeholders.

Teamshares, based in the New York borough of Brooklyn, is bringing its employee ownership succession model to Japan in its first overseas foray. Typically the startup will buy an entire enterprise from business owners so they can retire, then hire new management to bolster the company while giving workers an 80% stake over a timespan as long as 20 years.

Such proposals could help the 2.45 million small business owners in Japan who will be age 70 or over by 2025, almost half of whom have yet to identify a successor. A cottage industry has emerged seeking to connect these founders with buyers, using technology as well as more traditional M&A services. Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’s biggest bank, has funded Teamshares via its corporate venture fund.