Seems to me that social entrepreneurship is booming in 2016. From the point that up until 1-2 years ago, no one from my circle of friends and acquaintances had a clue about what social businesses are, to 2016 Forbes list of 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs. If you are among the people that are interested to get involved or start a business that’ll tackle social problems, then this is the right time to start!
What is social entrepreneurship? Why is different than the “regular” entrepreneurship? Where can you develop your social business idea? Can a startup be a social enterprise? Well, to all these questions you can google the answers, I’m sure 🙂
When in ‘the imperial beauty’ that Vienna is, there is this HUB that is helping people to make an impact. Especially social impact. Soon after my meet-up with Natalie about what #MakesYouPioneer , I was headed via Mariahilfer Straße to get to Impact Hub Vienna to meet the Program Director, Christine Spernbauer.
Impact Hub is a global network of over 11000 members spread over 5 continents, with a shared focus on creating real impact. Members benefit from guidance, resources, and opportunities shared from nearly 70 Impact Hubs around the world. In Vienna they have 1200 m2 co-working space and event location, business incubator, impact-driven community and as they say ‘Impact cannot happen in isolation – Let’s begin!’
Chiristine and I were introduced via a mutual friend (thanks Ljupka) and after showing me around their super cool premises, we grabbed our cups of coffee and set down to discuss more about how Christine’s story started with Impact Hub Vienna and her passion about social entrepreneurship.
“When I look back at it, I can say that things fell in place for me. When I came back from China, I knew that I wanted to work with international organization. In 2009, I was part of the StartEurope team (that is now Pioneers). We were working together to boost the startup eco-system through a summer school and the startuplive events. In meantime I was introduced to the Social Impact Award and they asked me for support, so through them I met the Impact Hub team. For me, it was all new and we were a small group of enthusiasts, back in September 2010 building the whole structure up. At the beginning I was engaged as a host of Impact Hub Vienna, where I was learning a lot about social entrepreneurship and social impact. Soon I started to work with Ashoka in Vienna and all in all, everything was somehow connected with social entrepreneurship. I’m very proud that when I started working, it was with people with many different ideas, but one goal, to foster social impact. Five years ago, nothing was happening regarding social entrepreneurship. Now, people are approaching us, they want to join the hub and do something. We are welcoming everyone that believes that can make a difference and at Impact Hub Vienna we have the right environment to do so.” – says Christine.
Throughout the years, the Impact Hub Vienna team has built a great network of young entrepreneurs, mentors, investors… Also there are several programs that they are implementing such as: the Accelerate program, GreenStart, Investment Ready Program, Re:Wien, Social Impact Award, Social Impact Start, Start:E and from last May they’ve kicked-off the Scaling program. I was interested to learn more about their latest program and her role in the whole process.
“Throughout the years I’ve changed my roles, but usually I’m working on these ‘white label programs’. We brainstorm with the team and when we have the structure of the program we go and pitch it to potential partners. For example the Investment Ready program was developed inside Impact Hub with a sister organization, then in 2013 we’ve merged them. With our latest program we have 8 Impact Hubs across Europe working together to launch a new Scaling Program for social entrepreneurs. For one full year, up to 100 innovators will be supported with knowledge, skills and advice from top mentors. We have teams (read: scalers) that are already accepted in this program, where we can help them get answers to the questions like: What does it take for one thing to travel to another city? I have a revenue model for my city, but can it be implemented in different cities as well? and more… Impact Hub Scaling is a program designed for social enterprises ready to scale locally & internationally. If you are running a social business and you would like to scale your impact across Europe, you should definitely apply to our program.” – adds Christine.
So to say, there are no excuses anymore! To anyone that is keeping their idea to themselves, remember it is not going to implement by itself. Now you have such a solid foundation to kick-start your (social) startup and people and programs that will support you on your journey.
“Impact Hub is a place where people can connect on a true dimension. You are in an environment that fosters collaboration and you are able to connect with people that are interested in the same topic. It is a challenge, but what can you lose? Stay curious, stay open-minded and do what your gut tells you!” – says Christine.
Social entrepreneurs and anyone that is interested in tackling social problems, you have so many opportunities and luckily for you and all of us, we have the Impact Hub to support the impact making process. Thank you Christine, for sharing your story and everything that you do at Impact Hub Vienna. Keep up the great work and wishing you lots of success with the programmes implementation.
To anyone visiting Vienna, I highly recommend you to check out their premises and meet all the amazing people from the hub team and their members!
Till our next re-union,