Throughout the annals of history, the COVID-19 pandemic will always stand out as the pivotal event that profoundly changed the lives of individuals in the 21st century. This global crisis had a far-reaching impact on us all. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it resulted in the tragic loss of nearly 7 million lives and left millions more grappling with various disabilities. Beyond the devastating loss of loved ones, people struggled with the disruption of their way of life, the forced abandonment of jobs, mental health challenges, and the strain on personal relationships.
While it reshaped the employment landscape, the pandemic also brought to light the stark reality that our society lacked a safety net, particularly for working mothers, especially in times of crisis. The pandemic ushered in an era of unprecedented challenges for mothers in the workforce. It laid bare the fallacy of the notion that a career woman can effortlessly 'have it all.' Mothers found themselves teetering on the edge, struggling to balance the demands of raising children with those of a full-time job. Many were ultimately forced to make the difficult decision to step back from their careers. In the midst of this turmoil, a remarkable trend emerged—a surge in women entrepreneurs, dubbed 'mom-preneurs.' In a broken system that no one cared to repair, women, especially mothers, turned to entrepreneurship as a means of sustaining themselves and their families.
Despite the advancement in the feminist cause and recognition of the sacrifices made by mothers, there exists a glaring lack of support systems for mothers in the workforce. Too often, mothers find themselves penalised with wage disparities and denied higher-level positions. They bear not only an equal share of the financial burden but also the lion's share of childcare and household responsibilities. The professional world, it seems, has yet to make adequate room for the unique needs of mothers.
In the wake of the pandemic, a profound shift is underway as mothers increasingly turn to entrepreneurship to take control of their livelihoods. This transformation stems from the recognition that the traditional system has failed to provide the support and opportunities they deserve. Like entrepreneurs, working mothers must constantly juggle caregiving responsibilities while deftly balancing the demands of work and family while navigating both the domestic and professional arenas.
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation recently published a report titled "Economic Engagement of Mothers: Entrepreneurship, Employment, and the Motherhood Wage Penalty" that drew curious parallels between working mothers and entrepreneurs. Working mothers and entrepreneurs, while operating within different contexts, share a tenacity that defies convention. Both groups share the relentless pursuit of prioritising responsibilities, all while keeping a keen eye on finance. In entrepreneurship, this pursuit often manifests in the relentless drive to nurture a business from its infancy to maturity. Entrepreneurs, like mothers, are entrusted with the task of fostering growth and ensuring the well-being of their 'brainchild' in the face of numerous challenges. Working mothers, too, exemplify this unwavering commitment. Whether it is tending to the needs of a newborn or guiding a child through their formative years, mothers demonstrate unparalleled dedication. A second parallel would be a keen understanding of the prioritisation and resource allocation demanded by entrepreneurship and motherhood. The third parallel is the shared understanding of the importance of financial stability, especially when it factors in the well-being of their charges. Entrepreneurs and working mothers alike recognise that a secure financial foundation is the gateway to opportunities.
A Shopify survey revealed an intriguing insight—single mothers are particularly drawn to the prospect of entrepreneurship. Perhaps it's because they are already accustomed to wearing multiple hats and shouldering a plethora of responsibilities. Understandably, they lean towards part-time entrepreneurship, recognising the limitations of their time and energy. The pandemic may have forced women out of the labour force, but it also presented them with an opportunity to re-enter as their own bosses, charting their own course in the world of business.
Yet, for all its promise, the path of the mompreneur is not without its challenges. These women grapple with the daunting task of finding their starting point amidst the chaos of childcare and household duties. Many women do not come from a business background, which can sometimes result in a limited grasp of market dynamics. A business cannot run on passion alone, and the weight of reality often begins to weigh on them as they come to this realization. Even if these women gain the necessary knowledge, time is a luxury they can scarcely afford. Work-life balance proves just as elusive as it always has been, often teetering on the brink of crisis. Countless “super-moms” have exhausted themselves striving to meet the demands of both motherhood and a career. With the professional world remaining virtually unchanged and many men refusing to step up to shoulder their share of domestic and child-rearing responsibilities, it is clear that mompreneurs are at risk of falling into the very trap that working women have. Negativity and doubt will encroach, fueled by the weight of societal expectations and the persistent notion that a 'good mother' must choose one path over the other. With the existing system that has made no effort to accommodate a working mother, is it too far-fetched to claim that the concept of the mompreneur is a fallacy?
In the wake of a global crisis, mothers have proved that they are a force to be reckoned with. The challenges are undeniably formidable, but the indomitable spirits of mompreneurs have persevered against the insurmountable odds stacked against them. It is imperative that we recognise the vital role that mompreneurs are poised to play in reshaping the landscape of entrepreneurship, and change the system to accommodate them, heralding a new age where mothers not only survive but thrive.