Young: The growing phenomenon of ‘mompreneurs’

There’s a growing recognition that there are more mom entrepreneurs in our midst.

This week, as a preface to the monthly town hall session of the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society which will have a “mompreneurs” theme, I thought I would talk about mompreneurs.

The phrase was coined almost two decades ago, so it’s not a new idea. But what’s happening is that there’s a growing recognition that there are more mom entrepreneurs in our midst.

Entrepreneurship has received increased attention in the last 10 to 15 years. It is now widely recognized and accepted that small and medium-sized ventures are very important for the economic welfare of national economies as they contribute significantly to innovation and job creation.

More and more, our politicians have placed entrepreneurship at the centre of their political vision. The amount of research devoted to the study of entrepreneurship has increased substantially during this same period.

The purpose of entrepreneurship research in the texts that I have read and studied are characterized by a very strong growth ideology, an ideology that stakes the claim that the reason why we need to study entrepreneurship so zealously is that entrepreneurs contribute significantly to the growth in national economies.

Growth equals development and hence becomes the criterion according to which entrepreneurs are judged.

Female entrepreneurs have also received increasing attention over the last decade or so, as the percentage of female entrepreneurs has increased consistently during this period.

Mompreneurship is an emergent phenomenon which has yet to settle on a widely accepted definition or be researched from a social scientific point of view.

There appears to be three elements that are central in this phenomenon:

• A need to strike a balance between the need’s of one’s workplace or career on the one hand and the needs of one’s family on the other

• The desire for a work environment unencumbered with an immediate supervisor impervious to and unconcerned with the needs of one’s family (the mother and wife)

• The desire to combine the first two elements with exciting and challenging work experience.

“I really enjoy that I can set my own hours, work late if I want and work in my pyjamas,” said one woman in a recent newspaper article about the subject. “I am a single mom and it is important to me to be able to be home for my daughter.”

The three elements I mentioned may be included under the concept of continuity. So it can be seen that the overall strategy of mompreneurship is to create continuity between the different spheres of the life of the mompreneur.

A flexible professional life is a precondition for finding the appropriate balance between dedicated motherhood and work.

The same goes for the absence of the stress of accountability to an immediate superior, the deletion of this relationship from the workplace equation can thus be seen as a strategy employed to minimize the conflict between family responsibilities and a career.

So, to sum up, mompreneurship is an attractive strategy to create continuity and to minimize conflict between the relevant spheres of life (motherhood and work/venturing)

Do mompreneurs represent a new generation of entrepreneurs?

Although various arguments could be made both for and against this question, I say yes.

Historically, entrepreneurs have been men, as have all the positions in society with power and prestige associated with them.

But over the years, women have increasingly entered professions and positions of power and prestige:  CEOs, politicians, judges, etc.

In the case of entrepreneurship, the increasing number of female and other types of what I like to refer to as hyphen-type e.g. grey entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs have qualitatively changed the face of entrepreneurship forever.

It is becoming an increasingly differentiated phenomenon.  It is spreading from the sphere of profit-manic, high-powered elite business life into other social spheres.

All kinds of people in our everyday world are launching ventures for all kinds of purposes.

Entrepreneurship, is being democratized and I like it.

Three cheers for the mompreneurs of our world.

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