This is a highly debated topic among parenting groups.
Recently, I came across a hotly discussed debate on Facebook through a group I have been a member of for over a year.
The post was up in the Mummies Discussion Group, a community based page in Malaysia where women come together to discuss issues surrounding parenting. It is a closed group and you have to be approved by admins to be part of the group.
The group has over 22,000 followers and is one of the most prominent groups in the country. However, it has only a third of the following of Jobs for CARING MOMS Malaysia, which has amassed over 66,000 followers in just two years!
By default, much like influencers, the more followers a group has, the more in demand it is.
Whenever mummies are not happy with a particular group, they will take it to the other to vent their anger. In recent times, they have taken to the first group to complain about the latter's administrators (also known as admins).
For those of you who might not be familiar with closed groups (or private groups) on Facebook, admins are those who started the page and have been entrusted with the responsibility of approving and deleting posts from the group.
While most (parenting) groups are being used for utilitarian purposes, like exchanging ideas and information, and also selling of secondhand items and even new ones, other groups have become more of a marketplace.
There is nothing wrong with having a marketplace group. But recently, when Jobs for CARING MOMS Malaysia (which will be referred to as CARING MOMS from this point on) started charging for posts in the beginning of July 2018, some mummies were outraged.
But did they really have the right to be? Other mummies who subscribed were pleased to find that engagement rate got higher. So what was the whole drama about?
The way the original post was phrased, it came off that the group seemed to be charging a range between RM150 and RM300 just for a mummy to post their product for sale on the group. But upon further digging, it was revealed that this is not true.
We at Asian Money Guide decided to reach out to the founder of CARING MOMS Malaysia, Major (Retired) Shera Ann Bosco, to understand why the group started charging a fee.
Firstly, Shera says, the subscription fee doesn't apply to EVERYONE. It only applies to only sellers as a listing fee on the classifieds section on the website https://caringmoms.my. The subscription packages are split into RM30, RM50, RM150 and RM300. The RM30 and RM50 packages are targeted at mummies who are 'starting out' and sell 'homemade' items, respectively.
The RM150 and RM300 packages are meant for resellers or distributors and restaurants as well as other businesses respectively.
Yes, CARING MOMS started off as a Facebook page, she says. But it soon grew to something much larger than just that. It became a community platform where mums could come together to share their ideas and to fulfil its vision: a job for every mum, building a community where moms can spend time with their children and still earn a living.
Shera had even given up her full-time job to run this project. Today, CARING MOMS goes beyond just a Facebook group. It is also a fully functioning marketplace website, for mums and SMEs to post job ads, product ads and it even has its own community centre in Sunway Nexis.
"I bootstrapped my way through this project. Starting a website isn't easy nor is it free. I had to come up with my own money to pay for the domain and get the site up and running," she shares.
The need arose when buyers started demanding more security. They wanted to buy from registered and trusted sellers. They also wanted an easy search function. They had had enough of scam sellers collecting their money and then deactivating their Facebook accounts and disappearing.
But this couldn't be achieved without her own customisable website.
Later on, one of her buyers had met up with a seller at a petrol station and fell victim to snatch theft. "I wondered to myself, why are all these mummies meeting up at petrol stations and random places to pick up their items? I wanted to give them a safe space for collection," Shera says.
Thus, the CARING MOMS community centre was born. The centre acts as more than just a meeting point for buyers and sellers of the group. It was also a physical place that mums could use to showcase their products. It was also an event space for mums to utilise.
Of course, this has to come with a fee.
"When we charge them RM30 or RM50, we're not charging mums to simply post on Facebook. We ensure what we deliver amounts to much more in value.
The backbone of our business is the website. Social media is just another marketing tool we manage. Most of our subscribers come from the homemade category (RM50), as we focus largely on local produce and want to encourage local talent.
This will help increase 'Made in Malaysia' products. And we are already working with government agencies to enable these local products to be exported.
This, in turn, not only boosts local talent, but also increases our national gross domestic product," Shera adds.
Monthly, Shera shares, sellers earn anywhere between RM1,000 to RM70,000!
"Those who see the value, will subscribe as they make a lot of money from CARING MOMS and anyone with business sense can make their own assessment before subscribing," she says.
Apart from that, mums (and businesses) have access to numerous benefits, including free usage of the community centre for business related activities, social media marketing services, and even specialised 'Branding and Photography' courses to help registered sellers increase their sales.