Through a months-long process, we reflected on our big global ambitions and put into words exactly how we're trying to accomplish our goals.
The work SecondMuse does is always evolving. Each year, we work with new partners on new projects in support of new groups of entrepreneurs and other Changemakers around the world. Just last year, we co-launched a first-of-its-kind Collective of Black content creators, marked our 10th annual Space Apps Hackathon, unveiled rare resources that assess the impact of digital technologies on youth wellbeing, initiated new programming for diverse, early-stage ClimateTech innovators, and so much more.
But even — and perhaps especially — amid our busy schedules, we wanted to make time to pause and reflect on how we are working to accomplish our objectives and how this connects to our larger vision. We are always doing this at the end of a project milestone, through “after action review” workshops, end-of-year reflections, and other events. But in the last couple of years, we decided to do a deeper dive.
In late 2020, we began to hold internal workshops to hone our identity, mission, and further sharpen our theory of change. This process helped define who SecondMuse is and why it exists in the world:
We are an impact innovation company working vigorously to better the world we all live in by boldly challenging ourselves to find solutions to complex issues. We exist to bring communities together to build economies that benefit people and protect the planet.
With this foundation in place, we went further and spent the last few months more sharply defining our positions on topics that are core to our identity and mission.
To help us dig deep, we asked for help from non-SecondMuse communications experts who surveyed us on the areas most important to us — how did we define them? What were our ambitions within each area and how did we believe we were working to achieve them? The process churned up a range of responses that we then spent weeks working to align and refine.
Articulating What’s Most Important to SecondMuse
The process helped us to identify 11 areas that are most important and central to our work at SecondMuse: Circularity, ClimateTech, Food Systems and Security, Gender Equality, Health and Mental Health, Impact Investing, Justice and Equality, Manufacturing and Hardware, Racial Justice and Equality, Resilient Economies, and Technology.
Through a series of workshops, we developed a common understanding that helped us define what it is we are seeking to accomplish in each of these areas and how we are doing that work. It was an opportunity for us to think about the common threads that connect our programs and services around the world — from our innovation programming that includes hackathons, incubators, and accelerators, to our ecosystem development and investment design work. The result is a series of assertions — our articles of faith, if you will — that we’re excited to share with our partners and the public to communicate, even more sharply, why we are advancing gender representation in technology in Chicago, fighting ocean plastic pollution in Asia, or why we have worked to identify drivers of youth wellbeing in digital places.
We can now articulate clearly, with a common voice, that we are driven in our gender-focused work, for example, by the belief that gender equality can only be achieved when marginalized genders receive equitable opportunities to participate in and benefit from economies and communities. We approach this challenge by prioritizing the needs of the oppressed, so we can provide them with tailored support to ensure they have equitable access to opportunities. We build programs with the understanding that racial justice is critical to and intertwined with gender equality and that gender inequality affects the entire human race and is therefore a problem we all must solve.
These guiding principles inform the actions that we take — the work we’re actually doing on the ground — like supporting women who work informally in the waste management sector in South and Southeast Asia via The Incubation Network; or working across academia, industry, and entrepreneurship to increase marginalized groups’ leadership and representation in all aspects of the tech economy via GET Cities.
The Beliefs That Guide Us
Underlying the rest of our work are our visions and beliefs that:
- We are building circular economies to protect our planet, create better living conditions for marginalized communities, and provide opportunities for future generations to thrive.
- Impactful climate tech solutions enable all industries to drive toward net-zero and serve people most affected by climate change.
- We envision a world in which every person has access to safe, nutritional, and affordable food that is produced in an organic, regenerative system that creates meaningful economic opportunities for regional communities.
- Gender equality can only be achieved when marginalized genders receive equitable opportunities to participate in and benefit from economies and communities.
- We envision a world where everyone has positive mental and physical health and can be the protagonist of their own future by bending the existing structures of power and privilege toward justice.
- Investments, and the broader capital system, only truly succeed when they are financing economies that are good for people and the planet and returning value to investors and ecosystems.
- Social justice will only be achieved when all humans have equitable opportunities to bring their unique brilliance into our collective future.
- All economies need local manufacturing capabilities to be truly resilient, regenerative, and adaptive to our changing climate.
- We will only achieve true economic success and social justice when all humans have equitable opportunities to bring their unique brilliance into our collective future.
- Resilient economies include and benefit all people, protect the planet, and can withstand the challenges of a changing world.
- The technology sector will only reach its full potential when it is inclusive and any person can contribute to it resulting in ideas and innovation that are representative of all humans.
Telling Our Story Consistently
The weeks of self-reflection didn’t alter our foundation or change who we are or what we do. We are still the same group of people working vigorously to better the world we all live in. The deep dive just rooted us and reminded us of our big aspirations and beliefs, and the way they guide what we do — from the design of investment funds and hackathons we help organize, to the way we search for and support innovators working on everything from climatech hardware to digital platforms that are good for teens. The same questions that we sat down to find solutions for years ago when SecondMuse embarked on our radical experiment to build inclusive and resilient economies, are the same driving forces that push us to innovate, collaborate, and change systems to better the world today. The words we now use to articulate our beliefs have simply sharpened our focus.