How a protest over pine trees led this woman to create her dream company.
In 2012, Jen Horn watched as local residents in Baguio City, Philippines, protested over pine trees.
It might not seem like a particularly obvious political reason, but when people tried to expand a mall and eliminate a large area of pine trees in the process, the residents were so concerned about the environmental impact that they organized.
Jen, who owned a successful design company in the Philippines, was inspired by their collective action. It raised questions she had about the ethical responsibility of a business to treat the world well.
In regard to her own business, Jen often found herself wondering what happened to the things her company helped create when people were done using them.
Was her business conscientious, she wondered. Was she making the world better with her work?
That's when she got the idea for Muni, a community and company dedicated to mindful, sustainable, creative living.
"[I] really wanted to do something with greater impact and start creating more learning and networking events for like-minded folks," Jen told Upworthy in an email.
The name of the company is derived from the Filipino word muni-muni, which means "to think, ponder, muse, or reflect." And the core of the organization's purpose is just that — to facilitate mindfulness, sustainability, and ethicality among entrepreneurs.
"I wanted to create a way for all of these great people to be heard more, to be connected more to other people who share the same ideals," Jen said in a TEDx Talk last year.
With the pine tree activists' efforts at the front of her mind, Jen started this organization by uniting her personal values of sustainability and mindfulness with her business.
Because it wasn't just about her vision for the whole world. It was also about what was going on in her own backyard.
So, what exactly does Muni do? Well, a lot.
Muni brings awesome events to communities across the globe, like a series of talks in Manila, Philippines, a sustainability festival, and an upcoming "camp" for start-up founders to come together and learn from each other.
Jen hosts Muni Market Days for local creators, artists, and performers to showcase their talents to the community — kind of like a farmers market but for makers and creatives. People subscribe to Muni's Facebook page and get notified when they put up a new event.
"I wanted to create a way for all of these great people to be heard more, to be connected more to other people who share the same ideals." — Jen Horn
With this upswing in female business leaders, like Jen, there is also an upswing in sustainability.
Why? One reason may be related to how female board directors and executives tend to be better at planning for the future and communicating a broad vision. A stronger reason is how diversity of all kinds always make the world a better place.
Including a diverse mix of voices in the decision-making process reveal smarter and surprising ways to make things systemically better at all levels — and sustainability is undoubtably a core area for that.
Unfortunately, only a fraction of Fortune 500 companies have women at the helm. It's clear that we need more Jens to lead the way.
Jen's advice for other Jens out there is simple but effective:
"The goal is to be more mindful in your business or in your life every day, and the only way for us to figure that out is if we’re in the process, doing it, talking to people who are also trying to do things in a different way."
Every action to better our community can be a source of inspiration — and in this case, it planted the seed for a company that actively seeks to improve and protect the world.
As Jen says in her speech: "At the end of the day, your world is your choice."
Reflecting on our roles as consumers, producers, and stewards of the planet is something we can all definitely get behind.
Listen to Jen's talk about starting a mindful business and see if you're not inspired to make some changes of your own!