Africa’s social innovation scene is blossoming
Over the last 3 years, the Impact Hub network has experienced a phase of rapid growth across Africa. Now, the network’s membership in the region has grown to include 1,400+ entrepreneurs and changemakers. An internal survey shows that:
- 93% of members are under the age of 35
- 31% of members started a new project or venture with someone they met at Impact Hub
- 64% of members reported double digit revenue growth in 2017
- Members created 190 new jobs in 2017
- Members attribute 50% of their success to being part of the Impact Hub community
Is it any surprise that re:publica chose Accra as its first non-European destination this year? Or that German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently visited Impact Hub Accra, and that The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, just visited Lusaka to meet the local entrepreneurs devoted to changing the entrepreneurial ecosystem for this better? Hardly.
The Duke of Sussex meets with local entrepreneurs in Lusaka
As part of the Royal Visit’s recent trip to Zambia, Prince Harry devoted his time to showing support for local innovators, including the co-founder of Impact Hub Lusaka, Brighton Kaoma.
We caught up with Brighton to find out how it went…
Why did The Duke of Sussex come to Lusaka?
The Duke of Sussex – Prince Harry – came to see the work that young Zambians are doing, notably with Impact Hub Lusaka.
With Impact Hub we’re working to provide economic opportunities, especially in regards to employment creation, innovation, and amplifying the voices of young people through activism and community organizing.
How does he plan on supporting this ecosystem?
Prince Harry was particularly interested in how he could shine a light on the work that young Zambians are doing. The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, of which he is the president, is supporting the work of young people in the form of funding, membership and capacity-building for organizations and institutions.
His visit was all about providing a springboard for the work of many young Zambians. It was about providing visibility, about celebrating success stories and assuring young people that he’s going to be there giving direction, leadership and support.
Tell us about the event…
As an alumni of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award, I was invited to be part of an organizing committee for Prince Harry’s visit. We arranged for 200 young people from other African countries to be brought to Lusaka, where we gathered and met Prince Harry.
We joined a panel of speakers who shared their stories and inspired young leaders across the continent to continue changing lives, and I spoke about our plans for Impact Hub Lusaka, which is opening very soon…
Like all of us at Impact Hub, Prince Harry also has a strong belief in ensuring that young people are at the driving seat of development.
What’s the connection between the Commonwealth Trust and Impact Hub?
I took part in a Commonwealth Trust program called Queen’s Young Leaders, established by the British Royal family in 2015. This was set up to identify young people across the Commonwealth who are using their initiative to bring about social transformation. I applied to be part of it, and was fortunate enough to win and receive an award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace, before attending a year-long leadership course at the University of Cambridge.
Social innovation was what allowed me to become a part of this community. I started championing change at a very young age, about 14 years-old, before going on to win this award and co-founding Impact Hub Lusaka.
What does the social innovation scene look like in Lusaka right now?
There’s a huge demand for social innovation resources in Lusaka at the moment. We’re in the process of setting up Impact Hub Lusaka, which will support entrepreneurs and feed this entrepreneurial hunger.
All of this innovation is happening because we have a huge unemployment rate in Zambia. In our country over 60% of the population is comprised of young people and universities are churning out students that don’t meet the current needs of labour market.
So, Impact Hub will endeavour to provide services and programs aimed at meeting the needs of the corporate world, as well as the labour market.
What’s your approach?
We intend on providing leadership and social entrepreneurship programs to help innovators accelerate their businesses from ideation to launch. My focus with Impact Hub is on alleviating youth unemployment in Zambia where there is a huge demographic dividend right now, which we can take advantage of. If we don’t, it might work against us.
Impact Hub Lusaka aims to close that employment gap, so that young people can be their own bosses and have a more conducive place to work from. Where they can be surrounded by a community of similar, like-minded changemakers who share their passions and interests.
Do you think this economic landscape reflects the rest of the continent?
This unemployment rate applies to the whole of Africa right now. Africa at large has a very youthful population, and this also presents itself as an opportunity. It means that the working labour market is going to increase, human resources are going to increase, and human capital is going to increase because of a productive workforce.
But by looking across Africa you also discover that there aren’t enough opportunities to take advantage of that huge productive workforce. Just like any other African country, Zambia is at a stage where it’s due a break. It’s a defining moment to either take advantage of this huge demographic dividend, or allow it to take advantage of us as a generation.
Impact Hub will work towards bridging that gap, and we’ll endeavour to collaborate with different institutions across the world globally who are working towards the same cause.
Do you think this gap is being met with rising levels of innovation?
It is. So many social entrepreneurs and changemakers are building spaces to bring about transformation in different sectors of development.
There’s a huge hunger among young Zambians – just like in other countries on the African continent – to ensure that we use the resources that we have, to take advantage of the opportunities we’re presented with in this generation.
Impact Hub, and The Duke of Sussex, are working to nourish it.
Find out more about Africa’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem here.
Learn more about re:publica Accra from the event’s co-organizers: Impact Hub Accra.
Prince Harry’s support for Impact Hub Lusaka works towards the following SDGs:
Now more than ever we are being called to tackle urgent social and environmental issues. At the same time, our governments and economies are facing significant disruption, but this isn’t really a series of problems, this as an opportunity for transformative system change.
We believe that the only way forward is by joining forces to build a future where business and profit work in support of people and planet. That’s why we created the world’s largest acceleration and collaboration platform for positive change — what is now known as the Impact Hub network.
How did it start?
In 2000, a young, idealistic group of graduates from Wales’ Atlantic College decided to test the boundaries of the status quo. Securing London’s Royal Festival Hall for a millenium event, they wanted to initiate debate on the connections between global environmental, social, and political issues, persuading Nobel Prize winners and influential thinkers to speak. Even the Dalai Lama was enlisted for a video address.
Their boldness saw them invited to host an NGO event for the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. But instead of accepting it, they chose to create a more meaningful alternative — a people’s summit. They joined forces with local activists in Soweto who were transforming a township wasteland into the Soweto Mountain of Hope, aka ‘SoMoHo’, an arts, environmental education, and community hub, which outshone the UN summit and touched heads of state, as well as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Back in the UK, they wondered how they could bring these perspectives into the world of work, and thereby help people consider more purposeful careers that tackle urgent world issues. Looking into it, it hit them: People were already trying to action impactful ideas from their kitchen tables, not reaching their potential in isolation. Their growing group of collaborators changed this in 2005, when they found a space to bring these isolated entrepreneurs and innovators together: a run-down London loft that would house the forerunner of Impact Hub.
The concept of ‘The Hub’ came to life, bringing changemakers together with the shared workspace, community, and events needed to advance their ideas and create new collaborations. Soon transformed with a community-designed interior using recycled and reused materials, The Hub met London impact makers’ needs for a collective action space and quickly filled up.
Months later, The Hub’s rapid growth made its hosts reach out to their networks, keen to discuss how to best support their expanding impact community. To their surprise, the resulting gathering in 2007 had little to do with member support but instead was full of people eager to find out how to open their own local Hubs all over the world.
An Impact Movement Is Born
So the team examined the principles of space co-creation and community building that were born in Soweto and tested in London, curious to see if Hubs might also work elsewhere… By 2008, there were nine Hubs on three continents.
The new spaces became rallying points for people passionate about building a radically better world, and the new Hub founders also connected — seeking inspiration in London and traveling to each other’s spaces to find out how to turn societal challenges into opportunities.
Dozens of would-be Hubs emerged following a centralized body in London, which envisioned the blooming network of Hubs developing as social franchises. But, by 2010, the founding teams came to a realization: Their future had to be a collective one.
This realization led to the creation of a bottom-up, democratic governance model. It came to life in late 2011, marking the Hubs’ transformation into a genuine collective: one with a co-leadership structure and shared practices to shape a new way of doing business together, in and for the world.
In 2013, the empowered network reinforced its focus on purpose-driven innovation and, with this, chose a more fitting name: Impact Hub. Over the next four years, Impact Hub expanded its global reach and more than doubled its community of entrepreneurs and innovators to over 16,000 members across the globe. Instilling conscious leadership around social and business innovation, Impact Hubs inspire, connect and enable positive change across diverse contexts and economies to prove that the future of business is found in profit that serves people and the planet.
In 2018, as a truly global network, it is now tackling its next challenge: Impact at scale.
You can also check out Impact Hub’s photo story in full.
Impact Hub catalyzes change with Accelerate2030 and Global Goals Jam events around the world during Global Goals Week, 22-29 September 2018
Thursday, 20 September 2018 – From 22-29 September 2018, representatives from the Impact Hub global network will come together with Accelerate2030 in New York, USA, and with workshops, talks and Global Goals Jam events in Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America, to take part in Global Goals Week.
This annual week of action, awareness, and accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) takes place alongside the UN General Assembly. Launched in 2016 by Project Everyone, UNDP, and the United Nations Foundation, Global Goals Week brings together governments, businesses, individuals, international organizations and civil society to build momentum to achieve the SDGs and ensure no one is left behind.
Impact Hub will participate by hosting events in New York, across the globe, and by publishing inspiring stories connected to the SDGs. As one of the world’s largest impact accelerators, Impact Hub uses the SDGs as a lens through which to view its impact on the world, and for more than 10 years has empowered locally rooted communities to progress towards them in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
The network’s 2017 Community Impact Report for instance has revealed striking insights into how the SDGs are being addressed worldwide, reporting that SDG 4: Quality Education and 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, are the topics that Impact Hub members are most devoted to overall.
Achieving the SDGs by the year 2030 is a huge challenge for today’s change-makers, but Impact Hub believes that this can be accomplished. Using Global Goals Week to showcase the incredible work that’s already being done by innovators in the network, the organization’s ambition during this week is to inspire others to join forces and do the same.
Accelerate2030 at Global Goals Week
Accelerate2030 is a program designed to scale the impact of entrepreneurial solutions for the SDGs. One of Impact Hub’s 200+ acceleration programs, Accelerate2030 has positively impacted developing economies in 19 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Co-initiated by UNDP, ITC and Impact Hub Geneva – and with two editions of the program implemented so far – the program has enabled 50+ national finalists and 15 global winnersto scale up their ventures towards the SDGs and has so far reached over 2 million people. Accelerate2030 supports the most innovative ventures with tailored support for scaling and developing sustainably, accessing investors, gaining strategic partnerships, and professional leadership coaching.
The 2017 international finalists have been invited to New York for a week-long boot camp, which includes investor meetings and an enterprise ecosystem tour, and will be speaking at the two events hosted by Accelerate2030. The bootcamp in New York will conclude the 12 month support Accelerate2030 has been offering to the international finalists. The next edition, co-created and newly improved by participating Impact Hubs, is already in the making with applications planned to open in early 2019.
During Global Goals Week, Accelerate2030 will come to New York to host the following events:
– Accelerate2030: Entrepreneurial and Innovation Ecosystems for the SDGs, focusing on how to foster entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems for the SDGs. 26 September, 4-5.30pm, Conference Room B, UN Headquarters, New York.
– A2030: Scaling the Impact of Entrepreneurial Solutions for the SDGs, exploring examples of collaboration between ‘Unlikely Allies’ for SDGs, including startup-corporate partnerships, and the need to focus on creating tangible impact through collaborative approaches. 27 September, 6-8pm, Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave, New York.
As part of her West Africa working trip, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Ghana’s capital Accra on Thursday, 30th August 2018. This invitation follows the invitation of President Nana Akufo-Addo.
On her visit Merkel will be accompanied by the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller, and a high-level business delegation consisting of representatives of German companies.
Apart from meeting the President of Ghana and attending a business roundtable the Chancellor wants to interact with young Ghanaian entrepreneurs. According to Merkel’s video podcast released on 26th August on YouTube, she wants to talk about the possibilities ‘opening up an economic perspective’.
Therefore, the German Embassy in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Delegation of German Industry & Commerce in Ghana (AHK Ghana) and Impact Hub Accra, a start-up incubator located in Osu, organizes a lounge discussion and mini fair during the visit which will also be attended by selected young Ghanaian founders; it will take place at the Impact Hub Accra.
Chancellor Merkel wants to discuss issues regarding Ghana as an investment destination. In her podcast she says, Africa and Europe are growing ever closer due to globalization and digitization. Therefore, the Ghanaian start-up entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to present their innovative and, in part, digital business ideas to the Chancellor and her business delegation at Impact Hub.
On Thursday evening, the Chancellor Angela Merkel will continue her Africa trip. After Senegal and Ghana, Nigeria is completing her visit.