|Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyeop, second from right, looks around Space Sallim in Dongjak District, Seoul, in this Feb. 18 photo. Yonhap|
By Bahk Eun-ji
Growing Mom, a startup providing childcare-related information, recently moved into "Space Sallim" in Dongjak District, Seoul, a place for women entrepreneurs. Since the move, its CEO, Lee Da-rang, doesn't have to struggle to find someone to take care of her son attending elementary school, as her office has a section with play mats and small chairs for the children of workers.
"I feel relieved that I can work while taking care of my child, when he is not going to school during vacation," Lee told reporters during an open-house day last week.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said it has launched the pilot project of Space Sallim, a center supporting business and childcare for women entrepreneurs, so that they can maintain work-life balance.
The center was built on the former site of Camp Grey, a U.S. military base that used to sit in front of Daebang Station on Subway Line 1. Space Sallim has shared offices and other facilities where women can work and take care of their children during work.
It is different from other companies that operate separate daycare centers. Currently, 17 women entrepreneurs and their 24 children use the offices, where a recreational area has been prepared for the children.
There is also a separate daycare center at Space Sallim where three full-time staffers provide childcare services for infants and toddlers when working mothers are busy. During vacation season, several programs will be held in connection with startups providing childcare services.
While the daycare center is available only for people at Space Sallim, the city government plans to open the childcare facilities to workers at other companies nearby once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
"As a working mother, I previously used other offices where I could bring my child, but there are more advantages as this place was designed for that purpose from the beginning," Lee said.
"This place is safe for children as well. They don't feel cramped here and there are no thresholds children can trip over."
|Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyeop looks around a vegan products shop in Space Sallim in Dongjak District, Seoul, Feb. 18. Yonhap|
Space Sallim has 37 shops and one exhibition room displaying products from companies it houses. Many companies there are not only run by women CEOs but also provide products or services catering to women.
For example, "The Period Shop" sells products related to menstruation; "B:Green Shop," an eco-friendly vegan market, sells vegan food, ingredients and refillable detergents without plastic containers; "Deeply," with AI technology related to sound, provides a service that analyzes the reasons babies cry; and "Angry People," founded by a female lawyer, offers online legal services.
Not only consumers but also investors and wholesale buyers visit the shops and companies there. Kim Min-kyung, co-chairman of Veggie Spoon, a startup operating a vegan shop, said, "People interested in vegan food and lifestyle visit the store after discovering it through social media."
Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyeop, who toured the facility on Feb. 18, said, "We will make further efforts to expand such spaces specializing in women's enterprises, starting from successfully operating Space Sallim."
Although the place is only operating as a pilot project due to COVID-19, 97 companies have moved in, with the competition rate for an office reaching 10 to 1.
The city is currently recruiting 29 more companies. Visit http://spacesallim.or.kr/space/main/index.do for more information and the application form.