In this episode, Derek Gallimore talks to MK Bertulfo, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of FHMoms (short for Filipino Homebased Moms).
FHMoms started as a Facebook community group that offers professional advice and programs that help equip stay-home mothers with skills that could help them land and thrive in freelance jobs.
In 2020, MK came in as a guest on the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. Back then, FHMoms, an online community established by MK to support freelancing mothers had 145,000 members. After three years and a pandemic, FHMoms is now 444,000 members strong.
Since Derek and MK’s last conversation, FHMoms developed into a support group that offers comprehensive assistance and education to Filipino women in the Philippines and all over the world.
At the core, its mission is to allow mothers the flexibility to juggle family life without having to sacrifice work opportunities. MK also talks about giving parents working overseas the opportunity to come back home and still earn enough to support their families.
All this is possible with freelancing, MK firmly believes.
Derek and MK also talk about the impact of the pandemic on freelancers. They also discuss how the unprecedented turn of events in 2020 changed many business owners’ perspectives on hiring freelancers and incorporating them into their regular teams.
Women empowering women
“I started Filipina home-based moms as a support group for freelancers like me back in 2017 when I first landed my online job,” MK tells Derek.
MK saw the importance of having a support group that will help and assist freelancers. Since then, she has held many series of live training sessions on Facebook.
“I went to different cities in the Philippines just to reach out to our members. So we’ve been doing a lot of projects just to help our community members, especially our moms in the Philippines as well as abroad,” MK says.
Eventually, MK started to do in-person seminars. She shares that FHMoms is finding success both in the freelancing and outsourcing industries.
Sailing through the pandemic
While it is true that the new work arrangements forced by the pandemic on many businesses paved the way for more organizations to consider outsourcing and hiring freelancers, it was also a very difficult time for many workers.
MK shares that many of FHMoms community members lost their jobs in the advent of the pandemic.
“It was heartbreaking because a lot lost their jobs. Many were decreased by the number of hours in their online job. A lot of businesses, as well as agency owners, were forced to close their companies and many were forced to upskill and learn new skills during the pandemic,” MK says.
She said that during that time she realized that it is important to find a way to step up.
“And we are actually forced to launch our own platform in the community. And different programs were rushed just to serve the community,” she recounts.
However, MK says that the pandemic also brought a positive impact in the outsourcing and freelancing industries.
She says before the pandemic, it used to be difficult to convince companies to hire Filipino freelancers. Talking them into setting up a remote workforce is even more difficult. But the pandemic opened up another perspective on freelancers and remote workers.
MK says with the pandemic happening, many companies are now hiring freelancers.
“The pandemic has brought on a positive impact in a way because, before the pandemic, we’ve been trying hard to reach out to the local companies to hire Filipino freelancers, or at least try the remote setup. But it was really hard until the pandemic happened and they are more open about it,” MK says.
Rent-to-own computer program
MK and Derek both agree that with a computer and the right skill set, anyone can get a freelancing job. That is all it takes.
This is why during the pandemic, FHMoms launched a rent-to-own computer program.
“It was extended up to this year. So basically, we allow our community members to apply for a computer loan and a lot benefited from this program,” MK says.
MK shares that this program became beneficial not just to the members of the community but also to their children.
“And what’s nice about this is that they can use it not just for work, but even for the online schooling of their kids,” she says.
FHMoms also launched a mini program called FHKids which offered short courses on graphic design and coding for children.
Testing new training approaches
MK shares that with the changing times and the availability of new platforms like Tiktok, FHMoms strives to look for new approaches and new methods to ensure that they stay relevant.
“So we’re testing different kinds of learning methods for them,” MK says.
Along with live trainings, FHMoms holds one-on-one coaching sessions where community members can engage with trainers through chat. They also stream training videos on different social media platforms. This enables them to reach a wider audience.
“Aside from them supporting our trainings, we are actually involving them to co-create different training programs for our community and involve our graduates to their programs as well,” she says.
Connect with MK through his LinkedIn profile.
You can also visit FHMoms and see more of the community’s work at https://fhmoms.com/