5 Women Entrepreneurs You Need To Know In Thailand
These five women entrepreneurs from the Gen.T List are smashing Thailand's glass ceiling with their boundary-breaking startups
There are only nine countries in the world where women's entrepreneurial behaviour is at a level equal to or greater than men's—and one of them is Thailand. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report, the country achieved gender parity in 2019.
A major factor, no doubt, is the positive perception of entrepreneurship in Thai society. Running your own business is seen as a good career choice in Thailand, according to The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs Report 2019, regardless of gender.
Despite this, the funding gap—the amount of investment needed to develop a business versus what's available—for women-owned SMEs is estimated to be US$25 billion, accounting for 61 percent of the overall micro and SME funding gap in Thailand, according to Pacific Vivek Pathak, IFC's regional director for East Asia and the Pacific.
Women-owned SMEs face specific challenges in obtaining financing in Thailand, such as higher collateral requirements and lower acceptance rates, says Pathak, which contributes to women's lower participation in the global labour market as a whole—nearly 27 percentage points lower than men.
In the face of these discouraging figures, a new generation of Thai women are overcoming gender-based deterrents and breaking Thailand’s glass ceiling. Here are five women from the Gen.T List who are doing just that.
Nalutporn Krairiksh founded ThisAble.me, a nonprofit online platform that publishes human interest stories and news, with a focus on multimedia reports regarding disability rights, to provide Thailand with access to media from the perspectives of less reported groups. She previously worked for nonprofit online newspaper Prachatai covering gender equality, and was also a founding member of the Future Forward Party, which gained countrywide traction in the recent Thai elections.
Sharinee Kalayanamitr founded Moxy, an e-commerce and media site for and by women in Thailand, which merged with Bilna to form Orami in 2014, with the aim of giving hope and choices to other women by creating a female-centred ecosystem, connecting women online and offline. The platform has now expanded to work with groups such as UN Women and Lean In, and Kalayanamitr was listed as one of Campaign Asia’s 40 under 40 strategic thinkers in 2016, as well as Entrepreneur of the Year (Thailand) at the Asean Rice Bowl Startup Awards.
After working as a military dentist for the Royal Thai Army, Kanpassorn Suriyasangpetch wanted to seek professional help for her mild depression but was frustrated at how difficult her experience was, prompting her to start Ooca, a video-call platform and app that connects people to professionals anonymously, efficiently and securely. Launched in 2017, Ooca was the first mental health app in Thailand, and Suriyasangpetch plans to take it global in the near future. In 2018, Suriyasangpetch was featured in the BBC 100 Women list of "inspiring and influential women around the world".
With a younger brother on the autism spectrum, Max Simpson has a heightened awareness of the challenges faced by people with disabilities, which spurred her to set up Steps with Theera, a coffee shop where she and her team train individuals with disabilities and special needs, giving them a chance to hold down stable employment and lead a dignified life. She now has four coffee shops, and continues to work to address the lack of understanding around those with disabilities in Thailand.
See also: What Matters To Me: Max Simpson
A master’s graduate from the Istituto Europeo Di Design in Milan, Rarin Thongma founded her brand Otherandbook in 2012. It initially focused on selling handbags but has transformed into a thriving footwear brand. Particularly known for its stylish ballerina flats, Otherandbook’s first official flagship store opened in March 2019 at The Emporium in Bangkok.
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