Text by SARITA RAO
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
ROCKIN’ MOMMA ENTREPRENEURS Looking for more career flexi bility, and boosted by Luxem bourg’s childcare system, many mothers are launching their own firms. Here’s a few that haven’t missed a beat.
ith 21% of business permit applications made by women, more mums in Luxembourg are choosing the startup route to get the right balance between work and family. The employment rate for women in Luxembourg, at 61%, stands 10% behind that of men. Only 11% of CEOs are women, and just 12% of listed boards include women. Work-life balance remains a key issue, with many women taking on responsibility for childcare and running the home, but still seeking fulfilment from work. Guatemalan Carolina De Leon is one of the three women founders of The Job Tailors, a business set up to promote flexible working. “Unfortunately, there are nowhere near enough flexible jobs in Luxembourg yet. We found that while they exist in the European institutions and Luxembourgish government, these jobs are the exception in the private sector, where the standard 40-hour week still dominates,” she says. “The Luxembourg government only recently came out in support of flexible work as a means to address population growth and its impact on mobility, with ideas around co-working spaces and working from home or using decentralised work spaces as an alternative,” De Leon adds. Her company works with businesses to establish flexible work programmes and also keeps a database of qualified people looking for flexible jobs. A recent workshop, “The Returners”, designed to support mothers with career gaps, sold out within a day. In an attempt to combine work fulfilment and more time with their Summer 2017
CAROLINA DE LEON A. She co-founded The Job Tailors to help place women into positions outside the standard 40-hour week AOIFE MURRAY B. The co-founder of Lucy Goosey’s Reading Adventure likes how every day is different as an entrepreneur
kids, many mothers are choosing to be self-employed.
SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES One such woman is Aoife Murray, a qualified obstetrician from Ireland who, with her business partner Sarah Homer Hutton, set up Lucy Goosey’s Reading Adventure, a mobile and online book business. “We found it difficult to find an inexpensive book store that had a wide variety of publishers,” she explains. “We keep the bookshop mobile and stock some of the international schools here and in Paris and Brussels, as well as running book stalls in local schools and at coffee shops.”
Murray admits that she would like to return to the medical profession when she’s improved her level of French, and when her four children are more independent, but that she enjoys the fact that “every day is different”. Greek-born Elfi Dontis recently started LuxKids Lab, which offers science workshops, children’s activities and educational visits. Her aim is to change the perception of science as “difficult” and “boring”, to engage more girls in science, and help children learn how to think. She and her business partner won a place in the 1,2,3 Go Social accele ration programme offered by Nyuko that helps startups with mentoring,