Kids club to toy testing: The rise of India's mompreneurs

Many women in India are becoming entrepreneurs, but it is noteworthy that a large numbers of them are mothers. A SHEROES Report on Women at Work, India 2014 shows that mother consitute 11 percent of all women entrepreneurs in the country.

Adrija Bose March 08, 2014 16:39:27 IST
Kids club to toy testing: The rise of India's mompreneurs

When Ruchita Dar Shah built firstmomsclub (FMC) --a Facebook community for mothers-- three years ago, she didn't know she would actually provide a platform for over 12,000 mothers to share their interests, joys and find inspiration.

"I was the first one among my friends to have a baby. In our generation we don't depend on our mothers or aunts--we depend a lot of our peers. It was started to get in all of us in touch," recalled Ruchita.

Besides being a full time mother to her two sons, Ruchita initially built FMC with the objective of connecting women who, regardless of their vocation, were also mothers. Centrally managed by Ruchita, the group is one of the few platforms that focus on the woman behind the mother.

Ruchita quit her advertising job to start something of her own when her second child was born as her advertising deadlines never matched her baby's dinner time or naptime deadlines.

"And so, after my second son, I figured that I couldn't continue to give my work the kind of attention it deserved while being there for my boys as much as I wanted," she said.

Many women in India are becoming entrepreneurs, but it is noteworthy that a large numbers of them are mothers. A SHEROES Report on Women at Work, India 2014 shows that mother consitute 11 percent of all womenentrepreneursin the country.

"While we were different in many ways - be it our education, our career choices, where in the world we lived, the one thing common to all of us was that we were also grappling with this thing called motherhood and needed to reach out and figure it out together without worrying about being judged or being labeled 'not good enough'," Ruchita told Firstbiz while explaining the idea behind FMC.

The popular Facebook community is being launched as a website today on the occasion of International Women's Day.

A husband, 2 kids, 3 countries and 4 cities-- nothing could stop Ruchita in rediscovering herself after her motherhood. She continued to maintain work-life balance as a freelance designer, while startingFMC.

Like Ruchita, Richa Pathak Dikshit,took a break from a 10-year-long career in investment banking andfounded Yellow Giraffe, an e-commerce store for toys, in 2011, when she was pregnant with her second child.

Much of Richa's time was spent playing with her first child which was the genesis for the project. She then started making videos reviews of toys and uploading it on YouTube.

"It was really an expensive hobby and there was really no grand plan. I really was taking it as it came," Richa said.

In around six months,ToyTasting, her YouTube channel, had 4-5 million views.On one side, toy vendors were talking to Richa about having their products reviewed and sold and on the other, parents wanted advice on buying toys. Richa and her husband put the two together and the Yellow Giraffe was born.

"It has been a very very difficult road," she said.

In February 2012, Richa's second child was born, around the same time the setting up of Yellow Giraffe was in full swing. The site went live in October that year.

So, why toys? Richa says that since Indian parents don't have an idea about toys, as they haven't played with them, they need some perspective about it.

"Indian parents need somebody who could tell them what toy works best for their kid," Richa said.

When Aditi Shah, an architect, came to India from the US five years back, she was unable to find a 'perfect' music class for her two year old daughter. She decided to start a musical bonding class--an innovative child and parent program devoted to the physical, emotional and social development of the child between the ages of 6 months to 5 years.

Aditi's musical bonding class is a program thatintroduces to children the various musical instruments, beats, scales, rhythms, pitches and body movements through specially created music. Aditi then started organising art competitions and various other contests for a group of children who came to the musical bonding class. The number of kids participating dramatically increased to about 500 in a few months, propagated purely through word of mouth.

Now Aditi is the founder and director of The Kids Club--a hubfor activities and a place where children can hang out.She decided to start the club as there was a lack of open space for her kids to play and interact in a clean, safe and creative environment. The club is not limited to activities for only kids, it also has various interesting classes for women.

"We all live in nuclear families now, parks have been converted to parking spaces. Kids Club is where mothers can interact and children can meet playmates," she said.

The difficulty in balancing corporate jobs with family lives is what seems to be pushing many women towards setting up startups.

Fleximoms,an independent entity offering a flexible employment model for mothers and women looking for flexible job opportunities, is trying to solve that crisis in women's lives.

"It is a community for women. The work-life choice question is quite big for women these days,"Sairee Chahal, CEO and Founder of Fleximom explains.

Fleximom not only helps women find jobs suitable to their needs, but it also provides opportunities for entrepreneurship and provides career guidance such as interview preparation, guidance to prepare yourresum andworkplace coaching among other things. Fleximom is also a bridge between investors and women who want to start their own business.

Sairee Chahal, the owner and founder of Fleximoms, shuttles between her business, her four-year old child, a household and varied other interests. Chahal then took forward the Fleximoms platform to build Sheeros.

"In three years time, at least 5,000 mothers discovered opportunities here and have built their own startups," she said.

Sheeros, the new platform, will be a larger group, providing more opportunities to women.

"In this community, women share their business experiences. It's like an inspiration for many mothers who want to do something yet can't decide as to what," she said.

So, is the 'mompreneur' the next big thing?Shalini Rawla, managing consultant at consumer and marketing research organisation The Key Insights, believes that momprenuers are still a small community and may remain one.

"It's only for people who can take that risk," she said.

"Only upper class of people can indulge in hobbies and start their own ventures. But it's not easy for other mothers," she said.

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