In 2005, a small group of innovators began building a community based on a shared vision of collaboration leading to change.
Today, Impact Hub is a large-scale social movement, with more than 15,000 members in 100 locations around the world.
Its main objective is to create positive change through its role as a business incubator, innovation lab, and social enterprise community centre.
ACS President Anthony Wong, Vice-President Yohan Ramasundara, and Director of Membership, Sales and Marketing, Daniel Reihana, visited Impact Hub in San Francisco as part of a tour to study collaborative spaces and the start-up sector in the US.
They met with serial entrepreneur, Kevin Jones, who was part of the team that opened North America’s first Impact Hub in 2008, and is now a board member for the San Francisco hub located in the Mission district.
“It’s a home for where business wants to change the world,” he said. “People realise philanthropy or government does not have enough power to solve all those problems that we’re facing.
“We are a community for change-makers who are often pushing upstream and trying to change some systemic element that business can be a force for change around some type of injustice.”
Member organisations have created change in social issues ranging from financial inclusion to access to clean water in third world countries.
However, deeply within their organisational values is the belief that global social change begins with community engagement.
A product of Impact Hub has been its Friends and Family Certificate of Deposit, an accelerator program for local marginalised entrepreneurs.
“We have become credible in this community because we are working with the people who are here, we’re bringing a new kind of capital, and we become the intersection. We reach out and open doors to the powerful for folks in this marginalised community.”
While their new 25,000 square foot location in the Mission holds 20 office spaces and a number of cutting-edge shared spaces, Jones explains that a strong community preceded their move into business.
“We were doing one of the first impact funds back in 2008 here, and we had a large office with six different businesses crammed in with us, and we gave each other encouragement. The first B-lab was there, Change.org started there.
“We were all pushing upstream and we felt isolated so we wanted to be together, and we’d have these mixers and hundreds of people would come. So that builds a community.
“If you don’t build a community first you shouldn’t start any real estate projects. We built the community first, then we said let’s make a place for each other.”
ACS also visited other collaborative spaces in San Francisco, including Parisoma, Australian Landing Pad, Rocketspace, The Founders Space, Alchemist Accelerator and Bespoke Co-working Space.