By Ellen McGirt
September 19, 2017

(I’m back! Thanks for the newsletter rescue, Stacy Jones and Grace Donnelly.)

Our thirty days of inclusion challenge resumes with this fascinating prompt from Saadia Muzaffar, a technologist and CEO of TechGirls Canada, an inclusive hub for Canadian women in STEM fields.

For each of the last ten years, Muzaffar has embraced an interesting exercise: To commit to a New Year resolution that will help change the way she understands and operates in the world. “I look at it is a chance to unlearn a single, deeply entrenched cultural value,” says Muzaffar.

So, in 2013, neck-deep into building her software startup and cash-strapped, she challenged herself to reimagine generosity. “Specifically, I wanted to figure out how to still give something back, when all conventional wisdom would suggest that I didn’t have anything left to give,” she says.

Like any good investor, she began by looking at her balance sheet. “I started by taking stock of assets that I already had access to — a social media platform, a solid reputation within an emerging tech community through my work organizing events like Startup Weekend,” Muzaffar tells Fortune. “I also had a big circle of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who were leaders, CEOs, and VCs.” The conclusion? “While I may have been cash-strapped startup founder at that moment, I was social capital rich.”

So, she decided to start highlighting the work of other women in tech, particularly young women of color like herself, who were rarely getting celebrated in male-dominated industries like video game development, robotics, space science, engineering, and urban infrastructure.

And that’s also when she had a big breakthrough: Social capital can be as valuable as the monetary variety, even when you’re a broke, sorry, bootstrapping start-upper.

Here’s her challenge and story.


Post your thoughts on today’s challenge on Twitter with #IncludeU30.

Looking for all the challenges? Start here.


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