Mommypreneurs is an international project which aimed to strengthen the skills of young inactive women on maternity leave or caring for children, to equip them with new digital and/or entrepreneurship skills, to improve their potential in re-entering the labor market or start their own business.
Maternity leave makes women more likely to “drop-out” of the labor market or “freeze” their career development. Over 7% of women lose their jobs due to pregnancy each year, 45% suffer financial losses and 50% are less likely to be promoted. “Motherhood wage penalty” ranges from 5% to 25% across EU countries. This also adds to the youth unemployment as many young women find it hard to keep or find a job after childbirth and maternity leave. Therefore, the consortium of 8 partners in 7 EU countries developed a high-quality training programme which was provided to the most motivated women free of charge.
Over two years more than 1000 young mothers in 7 EU countries (Cyprus, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain) took part in 2-3 months training programs. 2 types of training programs were provided:
- Digital skills (focusing on web design and e-commerce)
- Entrepreneurship (focusing on establishing a business)
The trainings were provided by the professional and certified trainers specializing in IT or entrepreneurship topics. The workshops were also accompanied with experience sharing sessions, where industry professionals and entrepreneurs shared their knowledge and skills with the participants. Most important, during the whole training program free childcare services were provided for the participants to ensure equal opportunities for all mothers to attend the trainings.
Different methodologies were adopted during the trainings to ensure effective learning – the core was classroom learning (i.e., face-to-face or online weekly classes) with additional learning encouraged by homework assignments, additional reading, reviewing the covered material etc. To keep the participants engaged throughout the program, they were also assigned individual projects – entrepreneurship course participants were working on a business plan whereas digital skills course participants were encouraged to create their own website or e-commerce platform.
After the program young mothers not only acquired new knowledge, skills and motivation, but were also connected with relevant company networks, employers, local businesses, investors, mentors to gain useful contacts for future employment and to help their business grow. The experience shared by entrepreneurs provided mothers with useful knowledge and most importantly, motivation, to overcome their fears and cope with the challenges that may come along the way. Potential employers introduced to industry opportunities and gave better understanding to the participants of what qualifications potential employers are looking for, what is the career path in IT industry. After successful implementation of the project, more than 180 participants found a job and more than 80 businesses were launched, creating even more employment places.
Mommypreneurs project team is proud of the impact this initiative had in all partner countries. Effective communication strategy ensured that the project could successfully reach the target audience and address their needs with the offered courses in entrepreneurship and digital skills. Not only the project allowed to equip the mothers with the necessary skills, but it also created a community of motivated mothers, that is still active outside the project.