Futurespotters Video Interview: Seda Papoyan in Yerevan, Armenia

Meet @SEDAchka! Seda is 29 and has 3 kids, and this is a key reason for starting her startup project, Ta-Ta: Mom’s Helper.

Being a mother of three is a big challenge anywhere, but especially in Armenia - of course there are kindergartens, but in Armenia, when you become a mother, you often lose your own independence and social life.  “when you decide to become a mom you have to quit your own life

Seda decided to change that - she did not have that bad experience, she didn’t “quit her own life” and so she decided to be an example to other mothers. First of all, providing basic services which help mothers to feel like more independent people.

The idea was submitted to the UNDP KolbaLabs innovation lab last year, where it was one of 4 winners and was awarded funds to get started. Now it is a registered organisation, and they have started with the first stage - a babysitting service, which is not common in Armenia. Seda has recruited more than 10 young people (girls - Armenian boys don’t tend to see themselves as babysitters, not yet anyway.) They look after the kids in their own homes, and hopefully soon will be doing so in Ta-Ta’s own venue. They have customers already, the service haas been running 2 months.

Seda wants to empower mothers to be able to call a babysitter when they need or to drop the kids off at the venue if the want to go out and do something else for an evening. But she also wants to engage moms themselves - for example through cooking - many mothers don’t have a great deal of education and may not be employed, but they have excellent cooking skills and they could use those skills and cook for larger groups than just their own kids. There are many other traditional ‘mom jobs’ - such as knitting - where those skills can be shared and put to use for the wider community. These moms can help each other directly, they can start businesses, and they can grow as a cooperative.

The biggest challenge initially was simply financial - how do we pay the babysitters etc. but winning the competition provided some money to help get started with that, and now they need to properly develop a business model that fits with this social enterprise. Currently mothers pay for specific services delivered, but that’s just the beginning. the idea is to run it as a membership model, which covers all services - and with more members, the wider the service can spread, and the lower the cost to be part of it.

how you can help:

It’s always useful to hear about the experiences of others who have dealt with this issue, or similar projects and approaches.    

the main issue right now is the basic need to reach financial sustainability, so any ideas or leads people may have to help in this regard would be very useful.

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