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Social entrepreneurs want Impact Hub in the Waikato

Jesper Kjellerås, founder and director of the Stockholm Impact Hub

There was no denying the electricity in the air when a group of social entrepreneurs gathered at Wintec to confirm their support for a Waikato-based Impact Hub this month.

Around the globe, a network of Impact Hubs empower and inspire people to help generate social change in the community by strengthening small businesses. Wintec and Trust Waikato have their sights set on an Impact Hub for the Waikato and are taking the lead to set this up in Hamilton.

Trust Waikato chief executive Dennis Turton told those gathered that Trust Waikato’s role is to be enabling and to help manage the tidal wave of social issues facing communities.

“We’re interested to see how social entrepreneurship can create an impact,” he said.

“We can’t achieve impact in our communities, without innovation. Developing a successful Impact Hub should mean we can keep people in our communities and help create a shift in culture.”

The workshop drew entrepreneurs, philanthropists and innovators from the community, private sector, iwi and community and government organisations from Waikato, Thames and Auckland. The initiative is also supported by Hamilton City Council and Waikato Regional Council.

Wintec research and development director, Mariana Van der Walt came across the Impact Hub in Stockholm, Sweden. Its founder, Jesper Kjellerås visited Wintec earlier this year and there is now a positive working partnership between Wintec’s research and innovation team and the Impact Hub. Mariana says the Global Impact Hub network shares a common goal to make a positive impact on the world.

“Impact Hubs are simultaneously three things, a co-working space, a social impact amplifier and an innovation laboratory. They are not charitable and must operate in a financially sustainable way.

“We have an opportunity to learn, share ideas, apply them to a local perspective, make connections see other projects and be part of a supportive global community.

An Impact Hub in the Waikato will aim to deliver impact and encourage members to become financially viable entrepreneurs and enterprises through collaboration.”

The journey towards setting up an Impact Hub is underway and to establish it and make it financially viable will take three years. Over the next six months all interested parties will be able to choose what role they want to play in this exciting journey. 

Contractor Jessie Liu is coordinating the development of the Waikato Impact Hub project.

“In global communities social entrepreneurship is booming and Impact Hubs give people a place to pioneer what the future of business looks like. Their principles are trust, courage and collaboration.

“Feedback from our first workshop has been extremely positive, and there is a high level of commitment to the concept. We have an awesome start to our journey of setting up an Impact Hub here in the Waikato.”

Elsewhere in New Zealand, there are plans to develop Impact Hubs. There is interest in Rotorua and Christchurch City Council through Development Christchurch Ltd, is leading a project to investigate an Impact Hub for the South Island.

“The ultimate goal will be setting up a national Impact Hub to drive systematic change in New Zealand,” says Jessie.

Find out more about the Global Impact Hub network.

If you are interested in the proposed Waikato Impact Hub, email Jesse Liu.

Image: Jesper Kjellerås, founder and director of the Stockholm Impact Hub, inspired Wintec to investigate an Impact Hub for the Waikato.

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