Starting up a business never occurred to Sachiko Setsuda, a 50-year-old housewife, until her community in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

But Setsuda is now busy preparing to open a cake shop in a temporary shopping area run by survivors of the calamity, motivated by a seven-month entrepreneurship seminar offered for free by Nihon L'Oreal K.K, the Japan unit of French cosmetics giant L'Oreal S.A.

The seminar is designed to help women in the city start up businesses, and includes lessons on basic marketing, advice from local business operators and lectures by prominent female business leaders.