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Why Thai businesswomen are thriving in Sweden

Published torsdag 13 juli kl 10.00
Araya Vestlund: I have the ideas and my husband does the accounts.
(5:20 min)
Araya Vestlund (left), owner of SuanThai takeway, with friend.
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Araya Vestlund (left), owner of SuanThai takeway, with friend. Credit: Richard Orange / Radio Sweden
Ririntorn Jirathanaset cooks the food she learnt as a teenager working in Thailand's night bazaars.
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Ririntorn Jirathanaset cooks the food she learnt as a teenager working in Thailand's night bazaars. Credit: Richard Orange / Sveriges Radio
Jirathanaset's partner Jens Sjölund grilling her home-made garlic pork sausages.
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Jirathanaset's partner Jens Sjölund grilling her home-made garlic pork sausages. Credit: Richard Orange / Sveriges Radio
Natasha Webster from Stockholm University has studied Thai women
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Natasha Webster from Stockholm University has studied Thai women Credit: Richard Orange / Radio Sweden
Festival organiser Niklas Norberg
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The organiser of the Sundsvall Thai Festival Niklas Norberg. Credit: Richard Orange / Radio Sweden

Thai women in Sweden are more likely to start a business than Swedish ones, and their employment rate is on a par. Radio Sweden visited Scandinavia’s biggest annual Thai festival to find out why and also to try some pig tongue soup.

According to Natasha Webster from Stockholm University, who studies Thai migrants in Sweden, the stereotype of Thai internet brides passively trailing their Swedish husbands could not be further from the truth.

They’re really an active migrant group. Six percent of Thai women in Sweden are business owners. For Sweden, that’s quite high. It’s on par with native women, but we suspect the number is actually higher. And also in terms of employment, Thai women are very highly employed.”


At the Sundsvall Thai Festival, there are more than 50 stalls selling Thai food, handicrafts, clothes, and more to the estimated 25,000 visitors. Most of the stalls are run by Thai woman entrepreneurs and their Swedish partners.

There is also a football tournament for the children of Thai immigrants and their partners, and a stage where popstars flown over from Thailand belt out their latest hits.  

We speak to factory worker and gourmet cook Ririntorn Jirathanaset, tomato grower and takeaway owner Araya Vestlund, and others about what gives Thai women their drive to earn.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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