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Impact Hub Johannesburg

A co-working community that pioneers initiatives and educates the market by inspiring, connecting & enabling viable social (impact) ventures

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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.

Explain your idea

We have explained our idea in the full description above, and covered the 3 key areas in which we are seeking funding for our enterprise. It is more than an idea, and it has existed before, but in a much more limited way and it is our idea to take the foundation which was developed during 2010-2015 to really expand on the concept of IHJ and to really reach a much broader range of stakeholders and ecosystem players. But we need funding in order to do this as effectively and as widely as we want. To summarise our idea from the first section: We connect Local Innovators: Connecting Johannebsurg’s human network, convening a diverse and interdisciplinary community to work together & create positive impact. Offering Programming & Events: We foster capacity-building through community events, workshops, panels, labs, mentor sessions, fireside chats, and more – with a specific focus on driving impact. Creating Shared Space: We provide innovators with shared spaces to connect, convene, share meals, exchange opportunities, collaborate, and allow for serendipity to happen in a place-based center for impact. Fostering Capital Flow: We explore the flows of capital and convene local community on the topics of investment readiness, capital stacks, wealth creation infrastructure, neighbourhood economics, impact investing and more. 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.

Who Benefits?

South Africa benefits. South Africa has one of the highest levels of inequality and unemployment in the world, as well as one of the worst education systems in the world. By bringing a wide range of stakeholders together to look at solving these problems, and by sourcing, assisting, supporting, incubating, funding and accelerating for profit businesses that look to directly or indirectly address these problems, we believe that we will have a direct impact on every person in South Africa, no matter their walk of life. It is critical to the future sustainability and stability (peace) of our country that we see more success in addressing the needs of the poor and the underserved, in a way which promotes economic activity. No doubt, though, the poor could benefit the most from these programmes, followed by wealth generated by successful entrepreneurs.

How is your idea unique?

We are not aware of many organisations that are set up to be self-funding in the future that are doing the breadth and depth of our work in South Africa. There are many ecosystem players, some of them for profit (often only for profit) and some of them NGO-based, but they tend to focus on one specific thing, such as business development support services, or impact investing to scale businesses. These activities are good, but they are not holistic and they are not collaborative. In order to create change in South African (and the world) we need to work together on solutions that will see poverty reduced, education increased, more economic activity, more sustainable initiatives and a focus on local. Individuals - whether they are politicians, corporate employees, business owners, entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes or even just ordinary everyday citizens - need to wake up & realise that they can, as individuals, play a role in change. It is IHJ's role to illuminate these opportunities

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

IHJ is a for-profit social enterprise with 3 individual Co-founders who are shareholders. The 4th shareholder is the Simanye Trust, which has, along with a number of corporates, sponsored the set up of this entity. The dedicated team at IHJ consist of 3 co-founders, a director of user experience, a community manager and community host, with our CEO joining full time from mid May. Our current partners include Simanye Trust, Simanye Economic and Enterprise Development (SEED), The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Accelerate2030 and the UNFPA. We have a number of corporate sponsors for our set up and infrastructure and for the roll out of our programmes. The entire premise of the Impact Hub concept, and the future success of achieving our vision and mission is dependent on building strong partnerships. We have several exceptional partnerships at the moment, but we are always looking for more partners who can participate in the work we do.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

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Photo of Tom Kruer
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I love it! We should talk about collaborating.
Tom Kruer
!DEA Soup

Photo of Impact Hub Johannesburg
Team

Yes we should. Please let us know how we can get in touch.

Photo of Celia Gates
Team

The world needs more design thinking and cross-sector cohorts of people certainly help to advance ideas - your proposal looks great and i wish you strong success evolving your project.

Photo of Impact Hub Johannesburg
Team

Thanks so much Celia! So does yours. Please feel free to connect to exchange more ideas.