Mum's the word for the three women from India who won the Facebook Community Leadership fellowships, heading and drive communities focused on pregnant women, breastfeeding moms or mompreneurs.
Of the top five participants selected as Facebook’s Community Leaders in residence is Indian entrepreneur Adhunika Prakash. The top five will receive up to $1 million to fund their community initiative. Two others - Chetana Misra and Tamanna Dhamija - have received fellowships of $50,000 each.
The Facebook Community Leadership Program (FCLP) is a global initiative which, according to Facebook, will benefit over 100 participants from around the world and provide them with support tools, funding and the belief in themselves that they need to lead their communities.
“Since announcing the program in February, we received more than 6,000 applications from all over the world,” shared Ime Archibong, Vice President, Product Partnerships in a blog. As of today, there are 115 people who have been selected into the programme as community leaders as resident, fellows and youth participants.
Adhunika Prakash - making breastfeeding her mission
Breastfeeding is a challenge that often doesn’t get due attention. It is also a stressful activity for new mothers. Adhunika Prakash’s community - Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers - with more than 80,000 people, has breastfeeding mothers and the peer-to-peer support system helps through different stages of breastfeeding.
It was started in 2013 and was initially based in Pune. Adhunika is a certified Lactation Educator and Counsellor and as the community has grown, it has increased its offline presence through meetups.
Chetana Mishra - MompreneursIndia
Chetana Misra is the Founder of MompreneursIndia. She took a break from work to support her child, and decided to build this community to help women entrepreneurs grow and sustain. Chetana continues to work on software projects while she manages the community. Speaking to me over the phone, she says she is happy with her freelance projects and building a community where all her efforts have been acknowledged.
About the recognition, she says “I am not a funded business. And as the community is growing, so are the expenses. So, for me, this scholarship from Facebook is a dream come true. I can now put my future plans for the community into action. I was told that ‘My startup does not have funding potential’. But this acknowledgment from Facebook is an assertion that we are building something valuable here and it does have potential.”
One of the biggest challenges she is trying to overcome to grow and scale is again funding-related. She says, “Because we are not funded, the scale of growth is slow since we have to rely on finding volunteers. Despite offering numerous incentives, finding volunteers who share our passion and are willing to give some of their time to the community is a big challenge since most of the mothers are already hard-pressed for time.”
She is looking forward to the four-day event in the second week of October in the US where she will get to meet the other fellows.
Tamanna Dhamija - Baby Destination
Co-founded by Tamanna Dhamija in 2016, this digital community caters to pregnant women and new mums where they can share their parenting experiences and recommendations with other mums. Last year, Tamanna raised Rs 2 crore in funding. On a call, Tamanna shared that being selected as one of the 100 community leaders was a humbling experience. Tamanna gave up a career in New York to start Baby Destination which now has a community of over five lakh mums through WhatsApp and Facebook. But, she says, “They are just getting started.”
To take this to the next level, she says, “We want to expand our regional footprint by creating more local and multilingual communities and also do content in various different languages.” Right now they have content in five languages. Offline connect is also an important part of their growth, and to take it to tier II cities will require effort and resources.
Tamanna is looking forward to the support from Facebook. "We will be able to work with the Facebook product teams to automate community moderation to ensure you know growth happens, engagement stays intact, and the communities are spam free. We also have a pretty good tech and analytics framework in-house which we want to further strengthen to enable this growth."
Facebook's press release mentions the primary challenges it discovered after speaking with community leaders included lack of training, support, and funds. These were some of the common obstacles “to having the kind of positive impact on their communities that these leaders envision.”
According to the press release, at select points over the next year, the participants will spend time at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park where the Facebook team with help them develop their community initiatives.
Looks like the community of mothers is going to get bigger, and why not, for mothers need all the help they can get.