Beyond the Veil: The Influence of Islam on Female Entrepreneurship in a Conservative Muslim Context

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Although there is a well developed corpus of knowledge concerning female entrepreneurs in developed nations, relatively less is known about counterparts in developing and transitional economies. This paper uses a survey of 180 women entrepreneurs in Bahrain to examine the influence of various socio-economic factors on their decision to choose entrepreneurial careers. We find human capital to be instrumental in respondent’s choice of business, type of financing sought, and level of networking. The expectation that ties to religious groups would confer an advantage when doing business in an Islamic country was not supported. Nevertheless, women who abided by Islamic customs were accepted in a typically male-dominated business world.

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