Born in Singapore and raised in Australia, by “a couple of hard-working, devoted Chinese parents”, Mums & Co. founder Carrie Kwan says she came to entrepreneurship late, originally commencing a career in communications before being bitten by the founders’ bug.
In 2008 Kwan co-founded the Daily Addict, a digital lifestyle guide that proved popular with millennials. Eight years later, pregnant with her first child, Kwan embarked on the next iteration of her career, launching Mums & Co.
A business network for women entrepreneurs, Mums & Co aims to empower female founders to reach new personal heights with their business.
“We do so by providing services, connections, resources, and the support that a business mother needs,” says Kwan. “We understand the challenges the working mother goes through and want to be the co-founder that they never had. We connect her to a like-minded community of more than 20,000 mums in business who support each other and want to help.”
Kwan has firsthand experience of just how tough a juggling act running a business and being a mum can be. Some might say launching a startup while pregnant is madness and Kwan ruefully agrees but wouldn’t change a thing.
“Thinking back, I felt so purpose-driven with my work, I had flexibility, a small team, and was lucky to have my husband and extended family offering support. For the most part, it was manageable but some days were tough!
“When you’re sleep deprived or feeling time-pressed (and you always are) things can get overwhelming. 1 in 3 women launch their business whilst pregnant and I intimately know this time can be particularly difficult for many of the women in our community who are sole employees taking maternity leave and don’t have a village to call on for support.”
This ‘it takes a village’ credo is a strong element of Mums & Co’s ethos.
“Being a working mum is tough! Being able to juggle the equally demanding tasks of motherhood and business ownership is a big task, says Kwan.
“There are hundreds of thousands of small businesses run by mums. But when you’re doing it alone, it’s not easy to succeed. We need to support each other to grow and provide help wherever we can. That’s where Mums & Co come in. We equip working mums with the tools to achieve their business ambitions and personal goals.”
Indeed fostering personal empowerment and boosting the skills of female founders ranks highly on Kwan’s agenda. To this end, Mums & Co. hosts an annual conference called Be MPowered.
“We bring together international and local influential thought leaders, creative thinkers and business owner mums. By providing a platform like Be MPowered we want to make sure that women entrepreneurs in Australia feel truly MPowered and supported,” Kwan explains.
Kwan believes having role models and mentors to inspire and encourage women in business is essential. She says mentors have played a part in her own success story.
“Some have made vital introductions and connections for collaborations and business opportunities. Others have helped with ideas and working through specific personal or business growth goals. They’ve all given me diverse perspectives on ways forward, and the possibility of making things even better, despite the odds. In addition to giving direction and bolstering my self-belief and self-awareness. Fellow founders have also been a phenomenal source of support,” she says.
Forging a path in a traditionally male-dominated arena is no mean feat, and Kwan is conscious of the need to help other female founders get a leg up. The MPowered Pitch Competition is just one way she hopes to address the issue.
“We’ve geared our Pitch Competition to get women business exposure, connect with opportunities in the form of business, investor and media contacts, and create fans to grow their business.
“Our female founders will receive key benefits including learning vital pitch skills, business exposure, idea validation, and potential funding.”
Still, Kwan acknowledges there is a long route until we achieve equality of pay and see more women cracking the glass ceiling.
“There sadly is no quick fix to achieve equality, but we need to keep encouraging these conversations and showcasing how valuable a diverse board can be. For example, a recent Bloomberg study revealed female-led ventures can offer 35 per cent higher ROI than male-led ventures, yet only 3 per cent of tech firms are founded by women. If everyone knew female-led ventures are so rewarding, then we wouldn’t be having the issues of inequality, yet it’s a social stigma and unconscious bias that holds us back.
“We all need to acknowledge the hard work, innovation and resilience women bring to the table and need to provide a conducive and collaborative environment where their ambition to succeed is embraced and actively supported by both women and men,” Kwan concludes.
Carrie Kwan is number 10 on our KBB Power List as voted by you.
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