Religious role models for women entrepreneurs in non-Western contexts: Muslim Kuwait and Buddhist Thailand
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This discussion looks at how strong spirituality provides role models to women entrepreneurs in Kuwait and Thailand. Although they lag some parts of the world at closing the gender gap (WEF 2016), both Kuwait and Thailand are among the leaders in their respective regions (MENA, ASEAN). However, there is still sometimes resistance to women in entrepreneurial activities from more traditional elements of society. Women, however, can point to religious figures who are well established in traditional society. In Kuwait, one such prominent figure is Khadijah, the Prophet’s first wife, who was a prominent businesswoman. In Thailand, this is Kuan Im (Chinese Kuan Yin), a prominent bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism who is a patron of women and, among other professions, merchants. These women religious figures can provide inspiration to women entrepreneurs and provide ample justification that their entrepreneurial activities are not at all contrary to traditional culture.