Impact Hub Johannesburg (IHJ) was the first Impact Hub to open in Africa and provided the first co-working space experience in South Africa in October 2010. In mid 2015, we chose to close the Hub as it was too small, in a location that wasn't working well and too focused on start up enterprises that didn't have the funds to pay for space. In late 2015, 2 new entrepreneurs joined the Co-founder team, along with the Simanye Trust, a not-for-profit trust that focuses on catalysing and funding early-stage and start up social or impact enterprises. In March 2017, Impact Hub Johannesburg 3.0 relaunched our new space in Rosebank, Johannesburg with a stronger value proposition and with the opportunity to refresh our target market and improve the quality of our infrastructure in a highly competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem.
From the day we first opened our doors to this unknown market on 1 October 2010, we have observed the evolution of the impact sector from social entrepreneurs finding its identity through academic definition through to policy regulations. We are a practice-based community that provides change-makers the space to get to work while we pioneer initiatives and educate the market through inspiring, connecting and enabling our community to develop viable social ventures. The brand has familiarity in the local social entrepreneurial market as well as long-standing support through mainstream media channels.
IHJ forms part of the world’s largest network of inspiring workspaces, vibrant learning communities and entrepreneurial incubation programmes – from start-up to investment-ready and beyond. We find and foster social innovation through collaboration to create sustainable impact. IHJ is a member-based co-working space and event venue that unites and empowers impact-driven individuals to create the change that they want to see in the world. Our focus is less on not-for-profit organisations (although we remain inclusive) and more on business-oriented entrepreneurs that want to solve a problem in society at least as much as they want to make money out of it. These problems in society may be related to income inequality, innovations for base of the pyramid populations, solutions to environmental issues and waste and so on. Our community is comprised of entrepreneurs, freelancers, techies, consultants, investors, creatives, artists and more, just from an entrepreneurship perspective. In addition, we build relationships with universities, business schools, ecosystem players, impact investors, politicians, local and national governments, industry organisations, corporates and traditional high net worth entrepreneurs. We believe the solutions to Peace, Prosperity and Planet are released through the bringing together of a wide range of stakeholders to change mindsets and co-create solutions to the challenges that the world faces today. To this end, we try to offer our members a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration, collaboration, connection and integration opportunities to grow their impact.
Impact Hub is a rapidly expanding, diverse global network of over 15,000+ members in close to 100 city-based locations. Any one of our worldwide Impact Hubs allows members to immerse themselves in the local experience of a global movement. Our diverse community of members and collaborators inspires, connects, and enables members to develop their best work every step of the way.
What are we seeking funding for?
1. Remaining infrastructure and operational costs
Over the last 18 months, we have invested over $450,000 in the infrastructure and set up of the Hub which opened in March 2017, including building the network and community over this time. We have some funding available as working capital which gives us about 8 months to become sustainable, however, we believe it will take closer to 2 years to become self-funding and are seeking $150,000 to support us in this process.
In addition to this, we have additional infrastructure and equipment to improve the Hub's resources from being very basic, which we have deprioritised until we can find further funding. We need approximately $25,000 to cover these expenses.
Finally, our quest to really achieve our vision and mission requires talented, passionate and highly skilled people that have experience in the development world, with social enterprise as well as the business world. While we could become self-sustainable in the next 2 years, this will come at the cost of impact. If we could source grant based funding to hire 3-4 additional staff members for the next 2-3 years without having to worry about whether we can generate enough revenue to pay their salaries, this will allow us to focus more directly on the task at hand, build the relationships with the various stakeholders mentioned above, run more events focused on bring stakeholders together to create change and impact on more mindsets. This will also help the Hub grow quicker and establish revenue streams associated with this work. It is unlikely that the Hub will be able to support all of these salaries by the end of these 2-3 years, but we expect the Hub will have grown quicker and be able to support some of these resources, and we'll be in a better position to establish what further interventions we require for sustainability at that time. To achieve this, we would like to source $200,000-$300,000.
2. Funding to set up a MakerSpace at Impact Hub Johannesburg
We have over 6 years’ worth of experience in community building, event execution and developing accelerator programmes. The availability of a MakerSpace will allow us to provide more practical support to both service and product based entrepreneurs through enhanced rapid prototyping, stimulating crossover thinking of industries and developing locally-relevant solutions to problems. When combined with our Social Impact Accelerator we can ensure that a resilient business model is part of the outcome.
In 2013 we started offering Design Thinking workshops as these were not readily available in South Africa. We developed stationery and recycled-material based “Makery” to support prototyping and observed how the imagination of our participants exploded when they could visualize their ideas. This led to business model evolution. Through the Design Thinking module of our Social Impact Accelerator, projects that were prototyped and developed through our Makery ranged from toys for children with disabilities, a web-application to measure social cohesion in companies to waste management technology for the inner-city and more. Where possible we linked participants to external suppliers to support development, but were mostly stunted by not having an in-house, well equipped MakerSpace. This experience has highlighted that physical prototyping of ideas has the ability to unlock the imagination of both youth and adults that lack confidence and come from under-resourced communities who carry with them the trauma of a post-Apartheid South Africa.
The availability of the MarkerSpace would help to fast track local solutions to the Peace, Prosperity, Planet initiatives through:
- Themed learning journeys to understand problems in communities in need i.e. food security, education, homelessness to stimulate thinking on how to practically problem solve from empathy as a base approach
- Bi-monthly Design Thinking workshops with the upgraded offering
- The MakerSpace would form part of the curriculum of our four-month Social Impact Accelerator which will allow participants to prototype and test their offering in the market while they develop their business model with the support of coaches and industry-specific experts
- Social Innovation Hackathons on various themes with the various stakeholders in those value chains, bringing together public private partnerships
- Actively invite various communities to use the space: designers, artists, university students, corporate R&D teams, youth-based organisations, technologists etc.
In order to establish a well equipped and functioning MakerSpace, and to have resources to support it, we estimate we would need approximately $100,000 for the next 12 months.
3. Impact LaunchPad 2018 and beyond
Impact LaunchPad is a programme combining both incubation and acceleration streams for a range of social enterprises at different stages, in an environment where they can also learn from each other as well as ‘’hack’’ challenges together. We have put this programme together with 2 other key long term partners, Simanye (social enterprise development and impact investing), and the Bertha Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (under the University of Cape Town and rated in the top 5 centres of its kind around the world, along with Oxford, Harvard and Dukes Universities).
For the 2017 iteration of this programme, we have programme funding for the ICT sector from a range of South Africa ICT corporates and a partner for health care through the United Nations Population Fund. Programmes in 2018 and beyond will have different streams, which may be linked to the source of funding for the programme.
The local incubation programme typically runs for 6 months and brings together a range of funding, business support and technical partners to ensure success. In addition, Impact Hub provides post programme support as well as physical space and networks for the top social enterprises selected, while Simanye brings funding and/or value-adding equity for successful social entrepreneurs. Social Enterprises that are already advanced and would benefit most from an international acceleration programme for scaling will instead go to Europe for Accelerate2030’s acceleration programme.
We are seeking funding for future LaunchPad programmes, as this is where impact is really created at greater scale - by being able to sift, source, influence, incubate, support, fund and scale business models and entrepreneurs who want to solve societal and environmental problems while turning a profit.
The amount of funding we are seeking in this area is in some ways limitless as we would expand or contract the programme accordingly, but the 2017 programme budget is approximately $400,000, with other partners providing additional value in kind.