By society’s definition, working mothers are those who have jobs or practice a profession while raising children. They can be employees, teachers, doctors, or architects, among many others. Moms who choose to run their own businesses and ventures—big or small—are also considered as such.
However, as the world continues to advance because of technology, so does the definition of a working mom, particularly in the modern setting.
Thus in celebration of Mothers’ Day today, The Sunday Times Magazine introduces a new breed of modern mothers, collectively called “mommy techpreneurs.” While still a growing work force, this paper was fortunate to meet Ginger Arboleda who generously gave her time to explain what their profession—and lives as moms—is all about.
First off, the word “techpreneur” needs to be understood. A portmanteau of “technology” and “entrepreneur,” a techpreneur is simply someone who utilizes technology to produce a start-up company.
Successful techpreneurs include the likes of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp of Uber, and Talmon Marco of Viber.
In the Philippine setting, many individuals have gone into the tech start-up industry. Impressively, among the industry players, mothers seem to be slowly succeeding in these ventures, specifically Arboleda who is currently part of three tech start-ups currently in development stages. This is on top managing and running www.manilaworkshops.com, which she founded on her own.
Yet with so many things on her plate, the industrious lady has successfully struck a balance between being a full-time techpreneur and a mother to three-year-old daughter Zeeka.
“If Zeeka is sick, I would willingly move a meeting,” Aborleda told The Sunday Times Magazine. “It’s all about knowing your priorities.”
‘This is it’
A graduate of the University of Asia and the Pacific, Arboleda was formerly a corporate career woman. She started out in marketing and then spent seven years in product management and product development for a bank.
Just when she was about to be promoted as company vice president, she surprisingly decided to quit her long time job. She recalled, “It came to the point that I was looking for something greater. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled already. I felt that I needed to see the direct impact of what I was doing to a person—as in directly see someone happy and all.”
She saw that this could only happen if she started her own business. And so she started looking on the internet for courses online that could help her or even inspire her on a major career change.
As all this was happening in 2012, Arboleda was also pregnant with eldest child by the way, which also posed limitations on what she could pursue. To start with, she found it impossible to enroll in any six-week course on the ventures she wanted to explore.
“This was when I thought, why not delve into different kinds of businesses—freelancing types—by holding my own one-day, lifestyle workshops. I’d look into different things and then I made a decision,” she related, adding that she successfully mounted three workshops on video-editing, make-up and travel blogging.
She continued, “After the third workshop, I realized this was exactly what I wanted to do . . . In fact, it’s still so clear in my mind—that particular scene right after the workshop when people were leaving, thanking me, and looking so happy. It was then that I told myself, ‘This is it.’”
The value of learning Manila Workshops
(www.manilaworkshops.com) was incorporated in January 2013. Arboleda gave birth two months later in March. She recalled she felt back then she had twins.
Today, the online company has held over 200 workshops with categories including Arts and Crafts, Career and Work, Entrepreneurship, Family and Parenting, Fashion and Design, Finance and Investments, Free Pro, Personal Development, and Work-At-Home and Freelancing.
As can be seen, her events are very diverse ranging from animation to basic “yaya”-training; mobile photography to personal branding; and homeschooling to digital marketing. Manila Workshops’ list is endless but what is important is that they all featuring experts in their field.
Each whole-day workshop is also intimate with only a class of 20 so that speakers and participants can really interact.
Asked for the overall vision Manila Workshops, Arboleda replied, “It is really to make people realize that they need to learn something new every day. . . We take it upon ourselves to create different kinds of workshops and topics that people can learn and have options. We work with different entities for it to happen, and even other event management companies.”
Among their established partners include JCI Philippines, Freelancer Philippines, Unionbank, and Microsoft, among others.
It is also notable that Manila Workshops is run by a team of fellow mommies.
“When I realized I needed people to help me with the company, I started looking into the work-at-home mom community. So a lot of people who are now with me are really work-at-home moms,” noted Arboleda. “We are now a team of 21 from last year’s 10. We doubled because we’re planning on holding workshops in Iloilo and Davao toward the end of the year.”
Their set-up is also modern thanks to a virtual office and online meetings. Actual meeting only happens during workshops.
Later this year, Arboleda is also set to launch spin-offs from Manila Workshops, beginning with “Love Learning” and “Memory Crafters.” The former is an e-commerce store that provides materials like books and videos tutorials to continue learning beyond workshops, while the latter organizes seminars to teach creative people to monetize their art and become entrepreneurs.
Besides her three websites, the mompreneur also serves as co-founder for three more businesses that are still in-the-making. These are tech start-ups Taxumo, Cape and Stackable, which are all web- and mobile-based applications.
Taking time to explain all her upcoming companies, she began, “Taxumo is made for freelancers to help them avoid stressing over their taxes. It is also for professionals like doctors and engineers who don’t have the expertise to compute their taxes. It is like a virtual accountant.”
She continued, “On the other hand, the idea behind Cape is that we want people to realize that flying is as easy as getting a cab. You can go anywhere anytime by booking open seats that are not sold 45 minutes before the flight.
“And lastly, Stackable is an application for companies to engage their employees to be healthy. Through the app, physical steps or movement is counted, which then be converted to rewards,” the mompreneur added.
Asked how she manages to handle multiple ventures, Arboleda replied, “You have to define your responsibilities for a certain company. You should know the extent of your role even if you are the CEO.
“It is a daily struggle,” she admitted. “There is no perfect way of managing your time but it helps to use tools like Google Calendar. Even dates with my husband and family go in there. But at the end of the day, you have to know your priorities still.”
When it comes to priorities, Zeeka definitely comes first for Arboleda. “If my daughter gets sick, I’ll move certain schedules just to bring her to the doctor.”
Is it easy to strike a balance between motherhood and entrepreneurship? For Arboleda, it is given the following advice: “Always be mindful if you are giving enough time for your family, without forgetting the dreams you wish to achieve for yourself.”
While technology does make parenting easier these days with the wealth of information readily available in a click, it also has adverse effects on modern mothers like Arboleda.
Because of connectivity, she related that moms like her are being made to fit certain molds. She explained, “The biggest challenge really are expectations from the people around us, from the internet. Everyone expects that you are the darn best parent. Parang lahat sila may [it’s as if they all have] perceptions of how you should be.”
Despite the extreme pressure, her advice to fellow moms is this: “There is no difference to us pursuing our dreams to dads pursuing their dreams . . . If you are doing this to build a better future for your child, directing your efforts toward that goal, then why not?”
What then amid all her hard work is her dream for her daughter Zeeka?
“For my husband EJ and I, it’s not about achieving and being the best that she can be. Our dream is for our daughter to be responsible, happy and independent. An independent individual who makes her own choices,” she earnestly answered.
But for now, Arboleda enjoys every moment being a mompreneur which allows her to be with Zeeka, be it playtime, going to the mall, and “just plain being kikay.”