'Mumpreneurs' on the rise in bid for work-life balance

A small but growing number of mothers are leaving the traditional workforce and setting up their own businesses. Called "mumpreneurs", many want more flexibility to look after their children.

Mrs Sher-li Torrey, founder of social enterprise Mums@Work, which helps mothers find work with flexible arrangements, estimates there are 1,200 mumpreneurs here, up from 400 in 2010.

A survey commissioned by The Straits Times and work-life advocacy group Employer Alliance (EA), and done by Degree Census Consultancy, also found that 28 per cent of working mums with young kids who did not like their work-life balance intended to get another job with better benefits.

Ms Joanne Low, 43, left her job as a lawyer 12 years ago after her second son was born. "At that time they didn't have a part-time scheme and I felt I needed to be with my kids more especially during their young age," she said.

When her third child - a daughter - was a toddler, she started making jewellery and registered a business in 2012. Juggling business and family commitments still required discipline and time management, said Ms Low. "I'm more focused on the time I have with my kids so I get my work done at other times."

Her daughter Kaitlyn said she was happy they can spend time together. "I like talking to her and going shopping with her," the eight-year-old said.

Running a business means mums can fit work time around their children's schedules and decide how big to grow the business, said Mrs Torrey, who is organising the first Singapore Mumpreneur of the Year Award this year.

"As the work environment is not always sympathetic or empathetic towards mothers, there's always a struggle between finding time for family and moving up the corporate world," she added.

Former banker Ivena Chew, 38, left her job in 2010 to focus on her daughter, now aged four. She started a salon the following year and her company, called pout, distributes personal care products.

"I'm not bound to the desk and to tight timelines," she said. "I can take (my daughter) out from childcare earlier to take her to the beach."

This article was first published on July 21, 2014.
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