As much as we need innovators and other emerging Changemakers with bold ideas to improve the world, so too do we need Powerholders who can bring those ideas to life.
Anyone familiar with SecondMuse might know that we are champions of Changemakers, the people whose innovation and lived experiences enable them to make a difference and birth a new way of doing things. From the small business owners forging better ways to manage plastic pollution in Indonesia, to the innovators designing digital spaces that center youth wellbeing, we support Changemakers who hold the potential — but often not the power — to forge a vastly better future that is good for people and the planet.
To realize their Changemaking potential, these innovators, entrepreneurs, and community members need the support of the world’s incumbent Powerholders — the investors, corporations, policymakers, and foundations with the power and desire to make change at scale.
Our role in the ecosystem is to build the connective tissue between these groups by forging and nurturing relationships between the humans on either side. Simultaneously, we work with both Changemakers and Powerholders to help them understand their place in the larger system and to increase their capacities so that they can each realize their transformative potential.
Collaboration to Solve Problems and See Beyond Ourselves
One of the key ways we do this is by designing meaningful and productive engagement between the two groups. In the case of Headstream, our program focused on improving digital spaces for teens, we bring Powerholders face-to-face with the young people using or intended to use their technologies. Through Headstream’s Collab Lab, for example, professionals from some of the most powerful platforms in the world, from Facebook to YouTube, have worked closely with mainly high school and college students passionate about improving digital spaces for their peers, especially those from historically marginalized backgrounds. Through a series of workshops, these youth have tapped their expertise — their lived experiences — to equip Powerholders with the skills and tools they need to bring co-creation with young people into their work. The Powerholders who stepped up to join the inaugural cohort are all Changemakers themselves for committing to collaborating with their youth users and learning more about digital well-being from their perspective. With a collective reach of more than 1 billion young digital users, these tech professionals have the power to apply and advance the visions their young users have for healthier and more vibrant platforms.
In some of our other programs, we carefully select Powerholders with relevant expertise to mentor entrepreneurs. While Changemaking entrepreneurs can clearly benefit from the experience, candor, and potential funds or connections a mentor might bring, mentors too can gain insights into emerging innovations that could address challenges their organization — and the wider world — are looking to solve. Beyond meeting each other’s needs, these collaborations foster relational wealth, a network of relationships, that can ideally lead to more positive change. An investor or corporate professional exposed to the real challenges entrepreneurs face can rally their organizations to address them. A Powerholder involved in the development of innovation can feel ownership over it too and tap their own networks to see it succeed. Finally, by increasing interaction and collaboration among people from other ends of the ecosystem, we believe that everyone will be more thoughtful about their impacts and the opportunities we all have to advance positive change.
Through our For ClimateTech and Incubation Network programs, mentors from major organizations have offered their time, expertise, and power to support emerging solutions to everything from climate change to ocean plastic pollution.
Rooting Changemaking in Reality
Beyond formal mentorship programs, SecondMuse invites Powerholders to engage with Changemakers in other ways. We invite them to share insights through participation in webinars and workshops, and we routinely connect them with Changemakers they may be eager to fund. While our work provides conscious Powerholders with viable pathways to channel their sustainability ambitions, Powerholders provide us with the confidence that the ideas and innovations coming from SecondMuse and our network are actually viable.
SecondMuse Capital’s research and design lab, for example, routinely invites investors to collaborate in the co-design of inclusive financial mechanisms, alongside members of the communities these mechanisms are intended to serve. By participating in these Future Economy Labs, investors can give the wider group the confidence we need to launch a new product in the world, knowing that investors would actually get behind it.
Because what good is any inclusive financial mechanism, climate technology, or vision for healthier digital spaces without support from the people and organizations who could actually bring these visions and innovations to life?
We know that our visions for the future are big: We are working toward a socially and environmentally just world where circular economies provide opportunities for all humans to thrive. We are working toward a world in which investments, and the broader capital system finance economies that are good for people and the planet. But what separates these visions from dreams is the fact that the impact-driven Powerholders in our network ensure that the solutions our Changemakers are pursuing are grounded in reality and something the whole ecosystem can embrace.