Mothers Are The Key

Highlights and Key Takeaways from GrowthLab #32

13 OCTOBER 2020

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Welcome to Opportunity Tuesdays, where guests present their current business challenges to our community. In this potluck session, we spoke to Michael Tomelden, the head of a feeding program for malnourished children, who shared his challenges in filling the gaps that the mothers of these malnourished children have. As a community, we used the 100H Launchpad Hurdles to gift Michael the relevant insights, practices, and solutions that will hopefully lead him to his next-level breakthrough of providing more opportunities to mothers of malnourished children. Targeting specific hurdles allows you to identify the issues that you need to address by providing more clarity and focus on the whats, the hows, and the whys that are relevant in reaching your next level breakthrough. Think about your own business case, think about the struggles you and your team are having, and see which of these hurdles best apply to you. No matter how challenging your own business cases may be and even if you might not know what to do, these hurdles can steer you in the right direction.
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Mothers or Children?

Michael Tomelden: Head of Love to Learn Feeding Program

Breakthrough: Giving livelihood opportunities to mothers of malnourished children.

Our first serving starts from 19:30 to 1:48:15.

There are 12-15 million kids in the age group of 0 to 12, who are malnourished in the country. Following Typhoon Ondoy, I started a feeding program for malnourished kids in the Marikina community. We also teach English and math to these kids on a weekly basis. Mothers are a big part of our program – they are expected to help in the preparation of food, cleanup, and supervision of kids during meals. They are also tasked with providing biometrics of their kids so that progress can be tracked. Our target is for these kids to gain 4-6 kilos every month. All in all, we provide 2 feeding sessions every day.

Because of the pandemic, a lot of parents, especially mothers, are unemployed. Some have pivoted to becoming entrepreneurs, but we cannot account for all of the 150 families that we are caring for. We’re looking for alternatives for the other mothers to do such as selling goods or engaging in other entrepreneurial activities. But then again we’re talking about people who live below the poverty line, so it isn’t that simple. We are trying to provide livelihood to the rest of the women so they can provide the hot meals, and help overcome the malnutrition that is prevalent in these communities.

We have multiple stakeholders; there are the kids who live below the poverty line and the parents who work in unscaled labor markets. They share a small living area that is roughly 30-40 sq meters per family. Their spending capacity is very low, between 8-10k a month and the expenditures for basic needs take up most of what they make. The kids are very underprivileged and even more nowadays because of COVID19. These kids want to succeed in life and their parents want a better life for them, but most kids from ages 0-6 do not have the privilege of having proper nutrition. When you are malnourished at that age, you develop brain gaps and this leads to learning handicaps. We try to overcome that by providing food for them very early on.

Most of these kids want to excel in school – out of the 2,000 kids we’ve helped so far, most of them have graduated in the top ten of their classes. They grow up bigger and taller than their other classmates. The next step for them is to go to college and that’s our ultimate goal; for them to move out of the squatter areas and move up the economic ladder. From ages 6-12 we give them study habits to help them reach these goals. Past 12 years old, I only see these kids again after they graduate from 10th grade. I assess those who have good grades and GPAs and see what the best path for them would be. For those who are academically challenged, I take them to trade schools where they can learn to be auto mechanics, technicians, and the like. For those who do well in school, we try to bring them into universities to further their studies.



It might be daunting and overwhelming to effectively care for these mothers and kids during this time of pandemic because there are so many angles to tackle in terms of their basic needs. But this exercise of narrowing down stakeholders and working from that, really helps identify specific solutions that might be relevant to these mothers and kids.


Identifying the right stakeholder will lead you to the right solutions. Understanding their pains and considering some key parameters of your target stakeholder will bring you a lot of solid ideas that are actionable.


100H Launchpad is very powerful. I learned that there are stakeholders that you can help the pain by addressing other stakeholders’ pain. For example, in this session, you can address the children’s pains by addressing their mother’s pains. Children may not have the capacity to address their pains but surely their parents can help them.


The concrete description of the malnourished kids and their mothers from Michael Tomelden made me reflect again on the power and influence of storytelling as a tool in innovation. We have to really understand and deep dive into their needs in order to help our stakeholders curate solutions for their challenges and pains.


No matter how good of a program you have, if the people involved don’t have the values to sustain it, it won’t work.


There is such a thing called donor’s fatigue. Advocacies, foundations, CSRs and the like must learn to thrive in a way where they can come up with measures for sustainable funding for their stakeholders. Dole outs must never be the go-to solution.



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