MK Bertulfo had had enough of her daily grind as a working mother. Caught between rush hours for a call center job that barely paid the bills and tending to a baby that would cry whenever she left the door, she knew she needed to find a new way to support her family.
One inspired night, she decided to respond to an online job listing from a Canadian tattoo shop looking for email support. To her surprise, she got called for an interview a few hours later. It was the first of many similar, well-paying jobs she would end up taking—jobs she could do from home, earning her the time for her family and financial freedom that she, and so many women in her position, yearned for.
In 2017, one of her friends, who had also worked at a call center, had a baby. Bertulfo knew she had an entire playbook of tips she could share to help her friend out. But, realizing that this struggle they shared was a universal one, she decided to create a Facebook group to share those strategies with all her mommy friends. The small group quickly ballooned to encompass more than 195,000 members from all over the country, all looking to Bertulfo for career advice.
Before long, she was flying out from Metro Manila to as far as Zamboanga every week, holding seminars, with her baby in tow. She even started conducting online training sessions for mothers who lived in far-flung areas.
In the span of two years, Bertulfo ‘s online support group grew into a full-fledged business: Filipina Homebased Moms (FHMoms).
Today, FHMoms has expanded beyond a simple support group, now offering market research services for brands looking for insights from working mothers. They also offer recruitment services, partnering with a BPO looking for call center agents among the group’s members.
But staying true to its original purpose, FHMoms is still primarily an e-learning platform for mothers, offering courses including:
– social media marketing,
– local and international e-commerce,
– photo and video editing,
– and basic SEO.
“We wanted them to choose the online course that they like,” Bertulfo said. “The idea is like it’s school where you only focus on one field, unlike other e-learning platforms that offer courses in bundles.”
“Our trainers are also mommies, so it’s more personal and they can relate [to their students],” said Bertulfo. “And our courses and platform are designed for busy moms… That’s why they like [the courses], because once they’re done with their chores at home, for example, they’re more encouraged to study.”
For those unable to take advantage of their online courses, FHMoms also does on-site training sessions.
Keeping mommies at heart
But beyond new revenue streams and the better lifestyles that come with it, Bertulfo shared that it’s the sense of pride and dignity that the members of her community—many of whom were never able to finish school—have really come to appreciate. For one member, a single mother and PWD, her life changed when she was able to secure a post as a virtual assistant. For another, her nine-year stretch of unemployment finally came to an end with a writing gig she secured through the community.
“When I started this, all I had in mind then was my officemates, my friends,” said Bertulfo, believing her personal connection with her community has been instrumental to her success. “Because of that, I was able to create a culture and environment for the community that was more genuine, that wasn’t too focused on business and money.”
“It was such a big help that my market represents who I really am. So it wasn’t hard to solve the problems because I understood them, I had experienced them, and I was able to come up with these solutions myself.”