Impact Hub Amsterdam

“Profit is not a dirty word here.”

On day two in Amsterdam I met Wieke van der Zouwen who runs an acceleration program at Impact Hub Amsterdam, and we followed up a couple of days later during an insightful conversation about the Impact Hub Network which I had been keen to learn more about for years.

Creativity beats the Grey

Impact Hub Amsterdam is located in an old industrial complex in the middle of Westerpark in Amsterdam (Looks an awful lot like North Amsterdam to me, but what do I know?). The city continued to wrap me in grey-ness and damp air through which I fought my way to Westerpark. Even the daffodils looked beaten up by the lack of sunshine while pedestrians were walking by with their heads down against the wind and drizzle. The outlook of sleeping in a ten-bed hostel room that night was not necessarily my light at the end of the tunnel. Impact Hub Amsterdam, on the other hand, is a bright open space that invites collaboration and creativity. When I first stepped in, I was almost blinded by chalkboards with information of all colors and fonts scribbled all over, a large wooden kitchen table that seats over 20 people, and big industrial-looking light fixtures. It cheered me up to feel like I had just walked into a craft workshop, surrounded by fifty or so crafts(wo)men typing and chatting away. I was up for it, “Let’s get to work!”

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Speaking to Wieke was exactly that – getting to work. Precise and matter-of-fact information about their working model made it one of the most efficient and productive interviews I had had to that point. I suppose if you run a co-working space for social innovators, this attitude keeps your head over water. And with success: Impact Hub Amsterdam, like other Impact Hubs, manages to finance itself through entrepreneurs’ fees and venue renting. Whoever thinks there is no revenue to be made through social entrepreneurs – watch these guys!

Apart from co- and networking, Impact Hub Amsterdam functions as an incubator and accelerator alike, providing support to more than one stage of social entrepreneur. The Business Model Challenge offers start-ups at the prototype stage a five-day workshop covering business modelling, storytelling and pitching which culminates in a one-day final pitch event during which start-ups meet potential clients and business partners. They benefit from peer-to-peer as well as mentoring from industry and business experts, join sessions and master classes different business topics, and become part of the Impact Hub Network (three-months membership).

And social entrepreneurs pay for that package - why not? Click To Tweet

For more advanced social entrepreneurs in their post-revenue stage, the Investment Ready Program provides 12 program days over four months leading up to an investor forum; the winner is awarded EUR 50,000. Tailored towards the needs of social business that have moved on from the start-up stage, this program focuses more on strategic planning, financing, and leadership skills and business acumen.

Scaling Social Enterprise

About the recently launched  Scaling Program Wieke says:”Innovative entrepreneurial solutions that tackle Europe’s major social and environmental challenges are all around us. Impact Hub Scaling is a program designed for social enterprises ready to scale locally & internationally. For one full year, up to 100 participating social entrepreneurs will be immersed in the Impact Hub network and acquire knowledge, skills and advice from top mentors located in Amsterdam, Athens, Bucharest, London King’s Cross, Madrid, Milan, Stockholm and Vienna.” I should learn more about this during my visit to Impact Hub King’s Cross a few weeks later.

'Profit is not a dirty word here.' Click To Tweet

“Entrepreneurs need profit to become sustainable and make investments towards their long-term success.” And the Impact Hubs seem to be getting this part right. Making a profit to secure your program’s sustainability for generations of social entrepreneurs to come also means practicing what you preach. Amen.


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