Being a mother and businesswoman in Brazil, a rewarding challenge

Four Brazilians tell LABS how the challenges of motherhood transformed them as mothers and entrepreneurs

When she found out she was pregnant in 2014, Dani Junco felt that something very important had changed in her life. “When I got pregnant, Lucas started to make a revolution inside me. He would ask me why I worked and what was my purpose, a word that didn’t exist in my vocabulary before motherhood,” said her.

Dani Junco, founder of B2Mamy Accelerator and mother of Lucas. Photo: Personal file

Dani was feeling alone, unsure about which direction to follow. By then, she had worked in pharmaceutical marketing. “I was a workaholic and I thought life was like that: you undertake, sell, someone buys and you make money.” Suddenly, during pregnancy, she found herself in a tangle of mixed feelings that prompted her to look for women in the same situation.

“I was very confused, very lost with these feelings, I had no pregnant friends around me, so I posted on Facebook saying it was hurting too much to think about how my life would be after motherhood. I asked: is it hurting anyone else? Shall we have a coffee to talk about? I expected five people and 80 came.”

From that moment on, Dani had no doubt that her doubts and concerns were very common among women in the post-maternity period. The businesswoman began to look for data about the reality of mothers in the labor market – and found that 48% of them quit their jobs before the child completing 1 year old and 75% of women entrepreneurs started the venture after having children.

Dani identified herself in the pains of the mothers who met with her to share their experiences. “I noticed two very latent pains: one was loneliness – both for entrepreneurship and motherhood – and the other was the fear of how to take the next steps. Where do I start? Where do I go back?” she recalls.

Dani Junco, founder of B2Mamy Accelerator, and her son, Lucas. Photo: Personal file

Lucas was the motivation of everything. I wanted to leave a legacy for him, a better world for him

Dani Junco, founder of B2Mamy Acceleradora and mother of Lucas

It was at this point that Dani decided to found B2Mamy, a project accelerator that connects entrepreneurial moms and assists them in developing projects linked to innovation and the new economy. Since 2016, the trails and initiatives developed by B2Mamy have helped over 7,000 business moms. The B2Mamy Start program facilitated the opening of more than 700 companies and B2Mamy Pulse accelerated the business of over 170 entrepreneurs.

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“Women came with a variety of skills to compete in the new economy. We were born to connect them in this new place so that, through focused education for this new look, they could be economically free to make conscious decisions, whether it be about their family or their company.”

B2Mamy was born of this genuine desire to connect moms who want to be entrepreneurs in the innovation and technology ecosystem

Dani Junco, founder of B2Mamy Acceleradora and mother of Lucas

Dani says that the journey of mothers who arrive at B2Mamy goes from doubts and uncertainties at the beginning of the entrepreneurial path to self-confidence and security when the business consolidates. “She feels prettier, safer, more networked, more prepared. We realized that so strong in their speech, that we opened Casa B2Mamy, which is our physical space, because they were asking several times for a place to go to and stay connected to each other. It’s a new support network, it’s a new community.”

If there are numbers that indicate the challenges that mothers face in the job market, other figures show that they are increasingly playing a leading role in the business world. According to Sebrae, an entity that supports small and medium enterprises in the country, the number of women entrepreneurs tripled from 2005 to 2017, from 6.9 million to 24 million. The number is slightly smaller than that of male-led enterprises – 25 million.

Increasingly, Brazilians are betting on their own business to prevent the workday from overlapping and suffocating the journey of being a mother. And that was the choice of businesswomen Daniela Cor, Lina Brochmann, and Vanessa Skilnik.

Family venture

The economics and entrepreneurship reporter routine of one of the largest Brazilian magazines could no longer offer Daniela Cor the professional pleasure she wanted. She knew she wanted to be a social entrepreneur. In partnership with her husband and partner, Michel Flamarion, she created an agency that linked social projects to large companies, an initiative that has proved to be not that profitable over time. The two decided then to create a brand of vases and items for decoration and, later, another one of milkshakes. Through these ventures, Daniela connected to entrepreneurship fairs and meetings.

Until one day, walking through the neighborhood of Moema, in São Paulo, region where they lived, the two noticed a gap. “The neighborhood is very nice, people walk a lot on the street, but its cultural life is totally focused on restaurants and shopping malls. Not many options to buy at fairs, from creative entrepreneurs. That’s when we decided to create Fair & Sale, which works as a creative curatorship,” she says.

Daniela Cor, founder of Fair & Sale creative curatorship and mother of Ravi. Photo: Personal File

Fair & Sale’s main project is a fair that connects creative entrepreneurs from São Paulo to public spaces in the city. The 37 editions of the event have already gathered more than 1,500 creative businesses and 100,000 visitors. The couple’s son, little Ravi, came into the world just on the day of one of the Fair & Sale fairs, indicating that from then on Daniela’s biggest challenge would be the organization of time.

“Motherhood has brought me far more career opportunities than challenges. If I put it in the balance, having Ravi in ​​my life opened my horizons, changed my mindset, made my eyes focus more on this world of mothers and entrepreneurs. From the challenge’s point of view, it’s really about the time. It’s understanding that business is booming, but I need to be with my son. This question of how you adjust your routine and find that balance is the biggest challenge,” says Daniela.

Having a child is part of what shapes us. It’s not something that has a secondary role

Daniela Cor, Fair & Sale founder and mother of Ravi
Daniela Cor, her husband and partner, Michel Flamarion, and their son, Ravi. Photo: Personal File

Daniela, Michel, and Ravi approached B2Mamy to accelerate Fair & Sale projects. For the businesswoman, the fact that the project was an accelerator for entrepreneurial mothers made all the difference. “When you are in an environment with entrepreneurial moms, who come up with ideas having the same routine tasks like your own, it is very inspiring. You think: you can do it,” she says.

She points out that having a friendly space to carry little Ravi contributes to the fact that the roles of mother and entrepreneur do not become incompatible with each other. “Ravi goes with us to every event. Having a child is part of what shapes us. It’s not something that has a secondary role. We are a family of entrepreneurs and the fact that we have Ravi open our eyes to other business opportunities aimed at those who live similar realities to ours,” says the businesswoman.

Challenging as it is, the entrepreneurial mother’s journey is, for Daniela, a path of great personal and professional learning. “The son empowers us to be entrepreneurial, because being entrepreneurial is really serving others. The first way you serve people is by serving your child by supporting him to develop. It’s very intensive servitude training and that’s very important for anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur.”

Business and family reconciliation

When she got pregnant, the businesswoman, a graduate in public relations and a graduate in digital journalism, management and business administration, decided to change the position of communication manager in a consultancy to create her own company. “It was after motherhood that I decided to be an entrepreneur. The main challenge that motherhood brought me was to be able to reconcile the career with the dedication to the children,” she says.

Lina Brochmann, founder and partner of Bora.aí, with her children Nir, Ben and Ava. Photo: Personal File

The notebook is my faithful travel companion and I never stop working

Lina Brochmann, founder of Bora.aí and mother of Nir, Ben and Ava

She invited administrator Vanessa Skilnik to jointly create Bora.aí, a guide that brings together activities and events aimed at children in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Campinas, Brasilia and Porto Alegre. “Motherhood aroused my desire to look for new models of work, but only when my second daughter turned 4 and I felt safe to change my path. After a sabbatical and much thought, I decided to be an entrepreneur. That’s when Lina invited me to be a partner at,” says Vanessa.

With seven years in business and six permanent employees, Bora.aí has ​​gained a relevant audience and today has one million pageviews per month. “We believe that good times in childhood mark our lives and Bora.aí’s main guide of activities to do with the family is to facilitate these moments,” says Vanessa.

Motherhood challenged me to review values, get out of the comfort zone and learn to balance many tasks at a time

Vanessa Skilnik, founder and partner of Bora.aí, and mother of Julia and Karina

At B2Mamy, women entrepreneurs have found promising space to share experiences and understand how to deal with the choices and challenges of being an entrepreneurial parent. “In our case, since we have a mature business, the pains are a little different from most other entrepreneurs in the group. But the contact with them made us see that there are several paths to success and that collaboration is fundamental to grow,” says Lina.

Vanessa Skilnik, founder and partner of Boraí, and daughters Julia and Karina. Photo: Personal File

Vanessa also highlights the plurality of the meetings and the identification caused by contact with other entrepreneurial mothers. “Everyone feels the pain of making a good idea workable and is willing to take risks, fall, lift and share knowledge,” she says.

For Lina, the journey as an entrepreneurial mother is both pleasurable and demanding. “If, on the one hand, entrepreneurship is a good option for those who want to be present in their children’s daily lives, as we own our own agenda, on the other, it is a much greater and more intense dedication than a regular job”, she clarifies.

As a tip, Vanessa suggests that mothers willing to become entrepreneurs should have a financial reserve to ensure more stability at the start of the business and highlights the benefits and challenges of the journey as an entrepreneur. “It allows more focus on results and control of one’s schedule, even if it means opening the computer again when everyone else at home is sleeping.”

A mother-friendly ecosystem

The stories that LABS told in this article are about mothers who contribute directly to the female and maternal role in Brazilian entrepreneurship in recent years. The challenges brought by motherhood have become an important fuel for the professional and personal lives of these businesswomen.

But every change brings challenges: For some of these entrepreneurs, there are things the entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to improve – and to some extent is already improving – to make environments more friendly to entrepreneurial moms.

The first thing for the entrepreneurship ecosystem to be friendlier to mothers is to understand that mothers have children

Daniela Cor, Fair & Sale founder and partner and Ravi’s mother

For Dani Junco, the debate about the role of women in the entrepreneurial ecosystem also involves representativeness. “We see a lot of really cool events, but there are only men talking. We need to put more women on stage, give more speech space,” she suggests.

The businesswoman also highlights the structural issue of business environments, which need to be better suited to the needs of mothers. “We need to have an environment that really welcomes the mother, especially in the early childhood phase. In some places, you have to kneel in the bathroom and get the milk. This is a look we have to insert into the entrepreneurship ecosystem,” she says.

For Daniela Cor, more friendly environments for entrepreneurial mothers presuppose understanding that the presence of the child is something that is exciting, and never a damage.

“It is necessary for people to be aware that our children will attend the environments and encourage children to attend those environments. The child enriches the environment and has another way of behaving. The first thing for the entrepreneurship ecosystem to be friendlier to mothers is to understand that mothers have children. And do not see this as a weakness. Your son is never a weakness. In fact, it’s a highlight,” says Daniela.