Photo courtesy of CARING MOMS
Anchor Food Professionals partners with Caring Moms Malaysia in empowering women entrepreneurs
This article was first published in Issue 241, January 2020 of Marketing Magazine Asia. To download a pdf copy of the full magazine, click here.
It was the perfect lesson in supply and demand when Major (Rtd) Shera Ann Bosco turned to social media in search for a solution to her problem – she needed a babysitter to take care of her then 6-year-old son but didn’t know whom to trust. What she was really looking for was another mom that could babysit her son.
The luxury of being a working mom in Malaysia isn’t as common as one would expect. The reality is a lot of women have no choice but to leave their jobs after childbirth due to the lack of resources available to them as support.
A recent 7 year old survey conducted by the Ministry of Women Women, Family and Community Development and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) showed that over 70% of married women in Malaysia were unemployed because they had to look after their children. The most common reason attributed was the lack of childcare support, uncooperative husbands and rigid working conditions.
When Shera turned to the internet for help, she had no idea hundreds of women were seeking for a similar network of moms who would extend their motherly energy through paid services. This discovery is what gave birth to what is now a successful social media platform that empowers women through jobs.
One of the most common services offered by the women in the Facebook group – Jobs for CARING MOMS Malaysia – is F&B related. Hence it was a no brainer for Anchor Food Professionals to collaborate with CARING MOMS Malaysia by endorsing 20 home bakers as Anchor Dairy endorsed bakers in conjunction with their 133 years global anniversary.
MARKETING Magazine sat down with Associate Director, Foodservice of Fonterra Brands Malaysia, Jack Tan and Shera Ann Bosco, Co-Founder of CARING MOMS Malaysia to learn more about how the collaboration has empowered Malaysian home bakers while staying true to Anchor Food Professional’s commitment to promoting New Zealand natural dairy goodness.
What sparked the partnership between Anchor Food professionals and CARING MOMS?
Jack: How we actually got involved with CARING MOMS is when we celebrated our hundred and thirty three years of Anchor’s (Anchor Dairy’s) global presence on the 3rd of November last year. In conjunction with this, we were looking to see what the next big thing in the baking industry/dairy industry was. And that’s when we found that home bakers are essentially one of the key groups that have been driving the growth. When I say home bakers, there are three kinds – mothers and sometimes fathers who bake for their kids. The second is bakers who supply restaurants and cafes. And the third is bakers who bake at home and sell online, like social commerce. That’s when we stumbled upon CARING MOMS, which is essentially a platform of social enterprise that is focused on helping women be more economically independent. As a business in totality Anchor (Anchor Food Professionals), we don’t really believe in a lot of sponsorship because we believe it’s too short term, like the saying “instead of giving someone a fish, teach them how to fish”. Back to the partnership, actually ours with CARING MOMS started three years ago with Anmum, so they’re not a stranger to Fonterra.
How has the partnership with CARING MOMS influenced the sales at Anchor Food Professionals?
Jack: So for Anchor Food Professional, we actually have a presence across Malaysia with approximately more than 6000 customers within the field. So because home bakers are only one segment of our business, at the current moment, we don’t see a significant spark, to be really honest. But at the same time, to us, these are actually seeding opportunities. It’s always about ‘how can we influence one dish at a time,’ ‘one cake at a time’ to build a long term impact as part of our marketing efforts as well as building or adding some contribution towards micro-SMEs.
Can you explain the marketing strategy behind this partnership and the birthday celebration themed “Legendairy Celebration.”
Jack: Legendairy – so we played around with the word legend. For you to be a legend, you must be good in the first place and you must also have had a pretty long history. A brand like Anchor to be around globally for about a hundred and thirty three years is not easy. So the thematic order, the concept ideation around it is to focus on, “We have been here for long and we’ve been good for the past 133 years, how do we actually inform or share this good news with our customers and emphasize on the benefits of good dairy for Malaysian palates and diet for the long run.
“The lesser ingredients you have listed on the specific pack, the better for the consumer.” – Jack Tan
What are some of the potential disruptions Anchor Food Professionals foresees happening in the industry?
Jack: I think within Malaysia, and within the South-East Asia region, dairy consumption is only going to go up. Purely because I think there are some megatrends coming into Asia or Southeast Asia in general. One is the importance of natural food. The lesser ingredients you have listed on the specific pack, the better for the consumer. So the need for natural food as part of the super diet or super food is increasing more and more and consumers are looking more at what goes into their food. In a destruction disruption perspective, I can’t comment on the upcoming decade as a whole but maybe the next few years, because the food industry is very complex. One clear thing is that consumers are willing to spend on quality, if there is good value provided.
But of course I think moderation is the key for everything, right? Milk is definitely becoming a trend, but of course, within Malaysia our dairy consumption is still relatively low at about 48 liters per capita compared to a country like New Zealand where it’s above two hundred seventy litres per capita. So, yes, we have quite a way to go in that perspective.
Can you briefly tell me the philosophy behind CARING MOMS and what drove it?
Shera: CARING MOMS started because of a then, six year old boy, who was my son. When he started Standard 1, I had no options of putting him in a proper daycare, and that’s where the idea came from. I started the group because I was looking for a babysitter and a tutor daycare for my son. I did not have the option to quit my job because I was serving in the military. Some mums would quit their jobs immediately once their kids go to school because the cost of daycare was rising and is still rising until today. I wanted to look for another mom who would take care of my son after school. That was in 2016. What started off as an intention for myself grew into something I never knew it would be today. So many people were looking for opportunities and were looking for a flexible opportunity after leaving their jobs.
So that’s how CARING MOMS started in May 2016. When it started growing, we thought – what are we going to do with all these people? So we refocused it to economic independence or the economic empowerment of women and mothers: Help women build businesses from their homes while still performing their main role as a mothers. Then we opened it to all women because some of them said “I can’t have children” or “’I’m not going to get married.”
What was the turning point that made CARING MOMS what it is today?
Shera: We changed the thing that deters people from online purchases – the trend at that time was you put everything on a post, but you don’t mention the price. For those of us who are busy, following up on these posts was not easy. Changing that, caused more people to buy online because of the trust factor which increased our buyer database. To date, we have about 300 sellers and over 100,000 buyers”
“Through CARING MOMS, we are seeing sellers who are so successful that their husbands are leaving their jobs to join their wives.” – Shera Ann
How were the 20 home bakers selected for the 3-month Anchor Endorsement?
Shera: We basically identified 30 home bakers who would fit, and then hosted an event where we invited Anchor to come and have a look, feel and taste what these moms can offer. On that day itself, everyone exceeded expectations, it was very professionally presented.
Jack: I’m actually allergic to chocolate and nuts so I wasn’t planning on tasting the cakes since I had a panel of chefs who would be the judges. But when I went in, I was overwhelmed with the presentation, the professionalism, and at the same time, the passion. So I took some meds and I tried all thirty of them.
In your opinion, what is the importance of accessible entrepreneurial opportunities for women, specifically in the Malaysian context?
Shera: When we started, we realised there was a pain point – they were being ignored. The fact that women who were high flyers in the corporate world and the fact that they had to leave their jobs, lose their identity, come to take care of the kids and nobody was addressing it. So you see, even the government, when they do projects, they do skill-building. They give you a skill, a baking skill, photography skill, but what happens after that? Where is the market for them to sell and where is the support? CARING MOMS offer a ready market for Entrepreneurs. Through CARING MOMS, we are seeing sellers who are so successful that their husbands are leaving their jobs to join their wives. Their financial independence has been fantastic. These are the kinds of impact we see. We are glad that the government is finally opening up their eyes. We just did a collaboration with the World Bank as they just realised the importance of giving women financial independence. The Ministry of Health has also called us to say they want to make home kitchens certified because right now it is illegal and there is a big loss of revenue for the government, We’re part of a research collaboration with the World Bank on creating Better Opportunities for Women in Malaysia.The Ministry of Health has also embarked on a program to certify and legalise home kitchens. All these are addressing a problem and making it more accessible for women to start off on any business venture.
So you can see how this is sparking change. We have 30 sellers on a pilot project with MOH (Ministry of Health) at the moment, to certify the home kitchens
How has a collaboration with anchor food driven CARING MOMS to continue building a platform to sustainable micro businesses?
Shera: See, what we want is always to build a sustainable business. As a homebaker, receiving endorsement from a company like Anchor gives their own customers assurance on the quality of their baked products which in turn has increased their monthly average income
The Bespoke market is a growing market now and, if we don’t address this market, we will lose out. As they say, you can either disrupt or be disrupted.