We hear the cry of the working mama, the mum who is thinking of returning to work – or the single parent or stay-at-home mother who just needs a break – how do we find time for work (or for ourselves), whilst also navigating the complexities of childcare arrangements? One local business hopes to provide the answer.
Calling themselves the Grab or Uber for qualified babysitters, Kiddocare is an online babysitting platform that aims to support parents, whilst also empowering women who want to pursue childcare as a career, or to generate extra income. We had the privilege of chatting with mumpreneur, Muhaini Mahmud, who shares her inspiring journey as the co-founder of Kiddocare.
How it all started
In 2017, Muhaini was still a full-time corporate woman – as well as a single mother to her (then) one-year-old son. In the midst of these two demanding roles, she experienced first-hand the struggles of working mothers, and in particular, the significant burden faced by single mums who are in the labour force.
Muhaini has come to accept the fact that as a single working parent, there just aren’t enough hours in a day. “Single parenting comes with a unique set of emotional challenges that can, at times, feel overwhelming and affect your confidence,” she concedes. Because of this, identifying time-saving measures and prioritising what’s important is key.
“I know that I am not able to do it all and that something has to give – whether it’s less “me” time, or an extra hour of screen time for my son. I take advantage of small moments to connect with him, and at the same time, fulfil my work responsibilities and make the most out of my time.” Citing the love and support of her parents, Muhaini acknowledges that one should never be embarrassed to ask for help, and that doing so is “not a sign of weakness and it doesn’t make you a bad parent”.
“Feeling overwhelmed is completely normal,” she adds. “Admitting that you need help occasionally, and that maybe you don’t have all the answers is a positive step in the right direction.” Knowing that this was also a reality faced by many other parents, the seeds for Kiddocare were planted.
Together with Nadira Yusoff, Kiddocare’s founder and Muhaini’s business partner, the duo formed Kiddocare – aimed at connecting families with the help they need, and to seek child-care assistance, anywhere and anytime.
A new concept
A babysitting online platform was, however, a relatively new idea at the time; and it was hard for many to be convinced of the feasibility of this business model in Malaysia. “Initially, we faced rejections – a lot of rejections. We failed many times to secure the investments we needed in the beginning,” says Muhaini. “There have also been challenges, both externally and internally, and things beyond our control (like the economic climate and Covid-19). This has caused us to constantly change and evolve our business models, with each challenge presenting their own headaches,” she adds.
Muhaini credits her corporate background for shaping her work ethic and helping her to push through the challenges. “A start-up is from the ground up, so every single detail counts. It’s also about being persistent, diligent and being daring to make a mistake”. It is this same grit, coupled with the duo’s unwavering belief in their business, that has helped to pay off – with happy customers and positive word-of-mouth propelling Kiddocare to become Malaysia’s Number 1 on-demand babysitting platform today.
Empowering women in a win-win situation
Championing women and the childcare profession are matters close to Muhaini’s heart, with her declaring that “Women, at the very least, deserve the opportunity to shine in the job market, to be the very best version of themselves”. And that’s what Kiddocare is all about: providing an opportunity for Malaysian women to perform at work, knowing that their children are in good and safe hands with security-vetted babysitters.
At the other end of the spectrum, Kiddocare also provides a viable income opportunity for Malaysian women to empower themselves within the childcare industry. These women will be well-trained, fully qualified, and given prospects such as professional development. To date, many lives have been elevated, with many of the B40 women who first joined the system now earning at least RM2,500 a month.
“It’s a win-win. We want to empower working women, and at the other end, we also want to give better income opportunities to babysitters,” says Muhaini.
Not your run-of-the-mill babysitting service
All potential Kiddocare babysitters have to go through a screening process, before being properly trained by professionals to qualify as hires. Kiddocare hires (or Kiddocarers) are all also Malaysians, to allow stringent security vetting processes to be carried out.
The potential babysitter will then go through a psychometric assessment. Referring to the heart-wrenching abuse cases we hear of in the news, Muhaini laments, “Most of these abuse cases occur not because the babysitters were not trained. They were trained, but they were likely not in a stable mental state. This is very important for us, and we constantly monitor the psychological condition of all our babysitters.”
And of course, Kiddocarers are also trained in managing safety, such as Covid-19 related issues, the handling of emergencies, and providing first aid. Kiddocare also partners with CPR Malaysia, who provides the CPR and safety aid training to their babysitters.
When we think of babysitters, we think of meals, baths and naptimes in the house. But these are just the basics. Kiddocarers go over and beyond, as they come up with activities and fun games to entertain the children. The babysitters at Kiddocare are also available anywhere, anytime. You can choose to have a babysitter accompany you on your grocery run, or you can even head to the gym with a dedicated carer, who can help to watch over your child to enable you to squeeze in a quick spot of exercise.
Other offerings include overnight nanny services (great for frontliners), pop-up nanny services (perfect for corporate events), and even travel nanny services. Since Kiddocarers are all Malaysians, the processing of visas for international travel will also be relatively straightforward.
The future of Kiddocare
Muhaini would love to see her brand expand, both nationally and regionally, to empower more women, and to also provide bigger opportunities for women in other locations around Malaysia to be able to enjoy the benefits of being a babysitter. She especially hopes to reach “those in the B40 category and those who really need assistance, so they can be productive in the job market”.
Collaborations and partnerships are also a very much welcomed, as Kiddocare hopes to create more synergies with different parties from various industries and sectors.
Reflecting on her journey
When asked about what has been the best part of her journey thus far, Muhaini shares that it’s the sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes from being able to balance both the stresses of running a business as an entrepreneur, along with the time-consuming duties of motherhood.
Her advice to aspiring mumpreneurs out there? “If you want to be an entrepreneur and start a business, you have to be daring to make mistakes. Because they will happen. But you will learn from this – and it just makes you stronger and a better person.”
A big thank you to Muhaini Mahmud for sharing her inspiring story with us. If you would like to get connected to a babysitter (or sign up to be one), Kiddocare now has a user-friendly app that can be downloaded on Apple, Android, and Hua Wei.