'Mumpreneur' numbers triple in a year

'Mumpreneur' numbers triple in a year
Graphic and Web designer Lam Yeok Kaye takes her 14-month-old son Scott and her husband Jonathan Reule to business meetings and says her clients are understanding. She set up her own business because she wanted flexibility of time and the freedom to exercise her creativity. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

MS LAM Yeok Kaye, 31, takes her 14-month-old son and her husband to business meetings with her.

The graphic and Web designer said clients are understanding, with some playing with son, Scott, when he tags along for their meetings - which she tries to time around his feeding and nap schedule.

Ms Lam is one of the 1,800 "mumpreneurs" - or mothers who set up their own businesses at home so they can juggle work and their mothering responsibilities - that social enterprise Mums@Work knows of.

That number is a threefold increase from that in March last year.

These enterprising mothers are part of a trend in home businesses here: Those run from Housing Board flats alone have risen from 19,000 in 2008 to 20,100 last year.

Mrs Sher-li Torrey, 38, founder and director of social enterprise Mums@Work, attributed the rise to the increased awareness of such possibilities after they held the Singapore Mumpreneur of the Year awards last September. Mrs Torrey set up Mums@Work in 2010 to help mothers looking for professional employment on a flexible basis.

To date, it has listed 1,500 flexible work arrangements.

Mums@Work also has 17,000 professional mothers as members - about 70 per cent seeking jobs and the rest interested in being their own boss.

The site functions as a portal, where members can browse job listings, sign up as volunteers for non- profits, advertise their mumpreneur business and sign up for workshops.

When asked why it had only 1,500 job listings, given the large number of members, Mrs Torrey said the number of employers offering flexi-work is very low.

"The only solution for this is to encourage more companies to consider flexible work arrangements. The current hiring market still turns to flexible work arrangements as a 'no choice' alternative or 'good-to-have' but not necessary," she told The Straits Times.

But the mumpreneurs within the group are happy to lend a hand and "quite enthusiastically" offer part- time jobs to other mothers. Some positions offered include accounting, social media manager, and event manager - all on a flexible basis.

While all mothers could do with help looking for jobs, Mums@Work has chosen to focus on professionally skilled ones because Mrs Torrey, a Singaporean, feels there is a gap in the market.

"The National Trades Union Congress and its Women's Development Secretariat have both done a very good job in providing blue-collar and non-PMEs with the help they require. However, there is a pool of PME positions that are flexible and this is not as well-catered to at the moment," she explained. PME refers to professionals, managers and executives.

So to help mothers looking to start their own businesses, Mums@Work has a "team of experts" to advise aspiring mumpreneurs on business issues such as legal queries, accounting problems and social media help.

Ms Lam had quit her branding agency job to study Japanese in Tokyo for six months, where she met her husband. The pair then moved to Singapore when she got pregnant.

Rather than rejoining the corporate world, she set up her business last September, when Scott was eight months old, because she wanted flexibility of time and the freedom to exercise her creativity.

She said her venture will also "show my son that he can be anything he wants".

"Sometimes when I've no work, I just spend all the time with my son," she said.


This article was first published on Apr 27, 2015.
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