top of page

Report | GMI’s Journey for Mom Empowerment

By Thao Nguyen 

Beijing – GMI Founder Jane Li knows how hard and challenging it is to become a mother when she started her maternity journey nine years ago. Witnessing a lot of obstacles with which a mom has to face has urged Li to start her GMI journey.

“The pressure of trying to balance everything while still having enough time for family life made me think about how we could support each other better,” said Li, “I am shocked by many suicides in our community such as moms jumping off buildings, even some of them who were pregnant at that time.”

GMI was launched in Sep 2021 when the pandemic hit hard in China and around the world. That was the time when women, especially those who were in their maternity and early motherhood stage were stroked harshly. Job loss, unstable income, kid, and family’s health crises were major negative consequences, which subsequently led them to exhaustion, said Li.

With a lofty vision of creating an equal world where global moms can reach their full potential, GMI’s mission is to inspire and motivate every mom to achieve her goals and facilitate her journey by providing relevant resources, programs, and mentorship.

Making motherhood a pathway to further success

Conventional wisdom suggests that motherhood is the tipping point in a woman’s life stage, said Denise Valenti a communications officer in Princeton University, where women are expected to leave their labor force and trade-off between family and social life.

Because of that situation, the idea of “MomQ” is created by GMI as an exclusive index, besides IQ and EQ, to indicate mom’s power and leadership capability. The primary objective of setting this index is to reshape public perception towards women in their motherhood stage. Subsequently, it provides employers a fresh yet fair evaluation of women’s employability post-maternity. It also increases moms’ confidence and revamp their sanguine level in both professional and personal life.

In order to develop and bring about the application of “MomQ” index, GMI established a #MomQActionResearch, a non-profit research institution run by scholars and professors from prestigious universities in China, to constantly conduct pertinent research and analysis of moms’ characteristics and needs. The critical findings from their research can be generalized to redefine moms’ identities and better shape the index.

To achieve that goal, GMI launched the first social program named “MomStory100” one month after the organization was born to encourage moms to share their stories of life struggles, feelings, and dreams. The program is operated on social media platforms like Facebook and WeChat.  Furthermore, “MomStory100” leverages those stories as a touch point to raise voices for moms’ justice and increase public’s awareness of moms’ true identities and developmental needs. Later that year, GMI introduced a Mom Writer Prize to incentivize more moms to participate in this program and spread out its brand awareness.

The success of “MomStory100” has motivated Li and her team to launch the second initiative called “MomCEO100”, a women and mom entrepreneur empowerment plan. The purpose of “MomCEO100” is to provide relevant training and resources for female entrepreneurs in their early stage of start-ups such as peer mentoring, business toolkits, coach, and counsellors. The club’s membership has a privilege to connect with industry influencers, top-notch investors, and venture capital firms.

Created by Thao Nguyen, GBJ reporter. Jun 2023.

A social eco-system to accelerate moms’ success

GMI has evolved to become a one-stop hub providing full-stack resources for moms to get her prepared, gear up and speed up her momentum of goal achievement. All those resources are linked together and complement each other to provide moms a full suite of knowledge, skill sets and network. They include “MomStory100” as a social sharing channel, “MomCEO100” as a business-oriented vocational hub, “Jobs4Moms” as an employment “agent”, “MomDesign100” as an educational hub targeting at sustainable designers from beginner to intermediate level, and “Space4Moms” as an offline community for social networking and supporting.

In detail, “MomStory100” aids moms and women entrepreneurs from the “MomCEO100” club with storytelling skills so that they can develop their business narratives or sharing motivational stories to inspire them to achieve business success. “MomCEO100”, on the other hand, powers the “MomDesign100” in their seed stage businesses by providing one-on-one mentorship, vocational training workshops and networking.

“Jobs4Moms” was born as a third-party platform or a “job agent” to connect moms with flexible and mom-friendly jobs across industries. Mom-friendly jobs mean they give moms several choices from either a part-time TikTok anchor host, a full-time business development coordinator or even a part-time office cleaner. This program specifically supports moms who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, the recently mass layoffs, or during their maternity leave to increase their financial security and social confidence. Members from “MomCEO100” or “MomDesign100” can also refer to this channel to increase their brands’ exposure or seeking for further employment opportunities.

Commercialization Empowers Sustainable Development

The most common question that any NGO or social enterprises are frequently asked is how they get funded to sustain their organizations. GMI Founder shares that she aims to build GMI as a social eco-system not only for empowering moms, but also for members’ businesses’ connection and development. It means via GMI’s eco-system hub’s professional network, their partners have high chances of being connected with relevant business opportunities like new clients or potential employers. Thanks to that, if they succeed, they are encouraged to donate ten percent of any revenue generating from that collaboration to GMI’s “Ten Percent Giving” club, said Li. “We also call our schemes social business programs where we link social services, businesses and resources to support each other, reinforce each other’s opportunities, and ultimately to keep the momentum of our community.”

Therefore, commercialization, in GMI’s regard, can be interpreted as a way of a social “return-on-investment” mechanism, where GMI “invests” in each member so that they have a willingness to “return”. Those “returns” are counted as an impetus to motivate GMI’s members to keep contributing and growing their community.

GMI team organized “Run4Moms” activity in Mar to celebrate International Women Day. Photo by GMI’s video channel. Mar 2023.

Social Capitalism and Time Banking

As the name social eco-system suggests, GMI Founder leverages their non-financial resources of social capital to fund her NGO, and human capital is her primary resource. In this sense, human capital comes from connections and contribution of their members and partners. From time to time, all the positive outcomes resulting from their activities are used as stimuli to not only fight for moms’ equality, but also support associated partners’ businesses with relevant networking opportunities. In GMI, the “Ten Percent Giving” club is a mechanism of generating social capital, said Li.

Talking about human capital, since GMI is mostly run by partnership and volunteers, Li introduces a “100 Hour Club” to acknowledge every volunteer’s contribution when they spend 100 hours for GMI. This scheme is developed upon the “time-banking” principle, which is according to Li still not yet a prevalent concept in the development world. However, by applying this principle, is it a noteworthy milestone for each volunteer to reflect on their commitment and values.

Theoretically, social capitalism is defined as any capitalist system that is structured with the ideology of liberty, equality, and justice. It explicitly values all forms of capital such as social capital, human capital, nature capital. “Instead of maximizing profit for the 1%, it involves profit maximization for all of society,” wrote Tristan Claridge.

So, what is “time banking”?

According to Investopia, time banking is a trading system for services, where people exchange their labor-time based credits with each other instead of money, or in other words, time is seen as a token to trade among people. It means one person can exchange their time of repairing one’s home in a return for their help to take care of their children. It can be considered as a community currency in which every citizen can benefit from using it. The term “time banking” was coined and trademarked by American lawyer Edgar Cahn, who advocated its use to supplement government’s social services such as elderly care. In China, “Time-banking” has been facilitated by Beijing government and Shanghai Municipal for supporting the elderly amid the aging dilemma, said Global Times.

“It’s kind of a resource exchange system, which is in parallel with money system,” said Li. Moreover, it is people’s good will and resource to do, and people can gain more than lost because they want to improve their skills or expand their human capital for their businesses via networking which can be done by offering their resources to help others.

How is “time banking” applied in GMI?

Li creates a timesheet excel file to track every volunteer’s work and time per project. It’s a way to measure their contribution and work, said Li. The “coin” returned to them is their social return such as exclusive access to unavailable resources or networking to potential employers or partners. “If you complete 100 hours for our GMI and being recorded on the system, you become our permanent members who can have exclusive access to our prioritized benefits,” said Li, “like link to your new jobs or investors.”

Moreover, GMI Founder shares her ambition to transform this NGO to a transnational social enterprise in the future. Therefore, in long-run, those volunteers and partners who are “coined” with “100 Hour” time-banking “notes” could have a chance to become their shareholders. By that time, their contribution can be converted to a more concrete and tangible value rewards.

Li closed the interview with a charming smile and confidently believed in the good causes GMI has generated for society in the race for gender equality, as well as the positive impacts that GMI has brought about for moms globally.


bottom of page