Thursday, 9 December 2010

Expat Women Series: Challenging expat women stereotypes

Last time we talked about expat women it was about the stereotypical expat housewife who had a charmed existence made up of cocktails by the pool and an army of staff to keep her house clean and dinner on the table.

In part two of our Expat Women Series, we will be looking at women who have become entrepreneurs in their new countries.

We came across a great article from Expat Exchange posted on the trailing-spouses blog that listed five common traits in expat spouses who go on to become entrepreneurs:

1. Desire for control
2. Strong self-motivation
3. Problem-solving abilities
4. Flexibility and lateral thinking
5. Willingness to take risk

While the expat who commissions local craft goods to sell to other housewives has become somewhat of a stereotype in itself, Africa Expat Wives Club has some sage words of wisdom based on her own foray into the world of “beaded hairclips and handmade jewellery”.

Books from self styled expat entrepreneurs such as Jo Parfitt’s ‘Career in your suitcase’ with it’s hints and tips on ‘finding your passion’, ‘networking’ and ‘creating your career’, could be a great starting point for women looking to set up a career working for themselves while living abroad.

In an interview for Expat Women Jo offers her top five tips for aspiring expat women entrepreneurs:

1. Be prepared to alter your ideas based on the market
2. First find your passion
3. Learn all you can about networking and DO IT
4. Brand yourself carefully and cleverly
5. Find out what motivates you (money, time off, people, fame) and ensure that you truly want to do what it is you set out do, because if you don't, you won’t get out of bed in the morning with a smile.

The site also has a number of interviews with successful entrepreneurial expat women.

In you’re an expat entrepreneur, we’d like to hear about your experiences. Leave us a comment below!


  1. Always having found "expat spouse employment" in all the countries we've lived in, I worked my way based on this philosophy: If you want something, go for it! If something stops you, you already have something to work on!

    If you really want to work - and can take an initiative, nothing can prevent you from advancing. If the job description doesn't fit you, go freelance and start your own!

    All it takes is drive, flexibility, and perseverance :-)

  2. Expat women DO have to overcome stereotypes. I have had to overcome several. I am black, widowed, and a business owner in Costa Rica. Speaking of Central America, I don't see any CA countries in the surveys?
    You can read about my experiences on my blog. The name of my business is La Terraza Bed and Breakfast and it's a wordpress blog. I wonder how you link one here?
    I was also recently interviewed by Black Atlas. com.
    I hope to see more Central American expats posting and the countries considered on these blogs and the expat surveys.

  3. Hi Jeanetta,

    Thank you for your message and sharing your thoughts with us. Were definitely keen to include more Central American countries in the survey but in order to do so we need more participants from the region to ensure we get a representative sample. Those countries that don’t make it into the survey are those that generally have had low participation and don’t provide an accurate statistical analysis.

    We would love to have even more countries involved in 2011 and that’s why with the upcoming launch of the 2011 survey we will be asking expats from all over the globe to not only fill it in themselves, but to also pass it around to any expat friends, family and colleagues in order to make sure that their country doesn’t miss out again. We’ll definitely make sure we let you know when the survey goes live!

    In regards to the blog we are interested in all expat postings so if you have an idea for a blog post on Central America and would like to contribute or if you’ve any more questions do get in touch by emailing



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