By Paul Ndiho
Impact Hub has been getting a lot of attention lately in the tech world, and for a good reason. The Hub has co-working space in more than 100 cities worldwide it is changing the way members, and social change entrepreneurs interested in solving everyday problems come to see their start-ups kick off.
Located in the heart of Washington DC, Impact Hub is a membership community of entrepreneurs, activists, creatives, and professionals taking action to drive positive social, economic and environmental change. Jan Baker runs the hub here in the DC Metro area.
“Impact Hub DC is the only one in DC. We’re a collective of social innovators and entrepreneurs. On a daily basis, we focus on mission-driven organization, and this could be anything from mass incarceration, some clean water issues, sexual violence, globalization, or anything that has to do with making the world a better place.”
Unlike a tech incubator or accelerator Impact Hub does not take equity in members, but provides work space, business advice, workshops and networking opportunities for the local and global community of change agents.
Hundreds of participants meet here regularly with investors, to discuss opportunities and challenges. Having worked at other tech firms, Baker appreciates the built-in community at the Impact Hub and says it keeps her on her motivated.
“I’m not going to lie I do work 14 hours a day. If you love what you do, is not work. Every day I get to work with very excellent people who are fulfilling their dreams, and I get to see that on a daily basis.”
For all the work required to launch a business, building a network and fostering relationships in the tech community is equally important. Jan Baker says Impact Hub DC strengthens their resolve to achieve higher social standards and empowers others in their community to do the same.
“We work with people who share our values and have integrity. We wouldn’t invite somebody here who’s working on hate crime; we wouldn’t collaborate with organizations or anybody who is working on racist issues or anything that exclude people, and want to make sure that we have the right individuals in this space.”
Analyst say what started, in 2005, as a gathering place for impact pioneers in London has grown to a community of more than 15,000 professional members more than 100 physical spaces worldwide. But despite the success, the hub in DC is not without its challenges.
“Being a woman of color, I do go up against a lot of sometimes, when I’m looking for funding sources, you know there’s like the old boys club. A lot of times people fund the people who they know, and who look like them. On a lot of occasions, I’m fighting to get funding for Impact Hub DC.”
From San Francisco to Singapore, Johannesburg to Madrid, and dozens of other cities across the globe, this growing community utilizes the power of entrepreneurship, collaboration, and network effects to generate and advance innovative approaches to global social challenges.