The first Rwandan Impact Hub will open in Kigali on August 3, beginning a series of launches that will see equivalents launched in Ghana, Mali and Sudan in the coming months.
First launched in London in 2005, the Impact Hub concept has become a global movement, with 76 hubs across the world with over 7,000 members.
The organisation has been on an expansion push of late, launching its Africa Seed Programme, a six-month incubator designed to support entrepreneurs in opening Impact Hubs across Africa. It also launched Resilience Africa, which aims to launch hubs and incubation programmes in a number of African countries.
Impact Hub Kigali is the first hub to spring from these programmes to launch, with the approaching opening marked last week by a Social Enterprise Happy Hour, which saw Randall Kempner, chief executive director of Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) fill the role of keynote speaker.
Kempner spoke to attendees about the importance of collaboration to drive positive social change through entrepreneurship around the world, before Jon Stever, co-founders of Impact Hub Kigali, emphasised the new hub’s focus on accessibility, collaboration, community and sustainability.
“I believe that Impact Hub Kigali is going to create an avenue for young Rwandan entrepreneurs to connect with people who are essential in growing their businesses. It is also going to be a place where individuals can come together to create something bigger than what they could have alone, through harnessing the power of entrepreneurship,” said Maria Mayanja, Impact Hub Kigali managing director.
Further Impact Hub launches are scheduled for Ghana on August 22, Mali in November ahead of a full opening next year, and Khartoum, for which a date has yet to be announced.
The original Impact Hub in Africa how, however, temporarily closed. Disrupt Africa reported last week Impact Hub had shut its Johannesburg based co-working space after five years of operation, saying that the facilities are no longer “good enough”.
The organisation said over the past months it has received overwhelming feedback from members and partners that the facilities are not good enough to support the teams working there, prompting a period of “introspection”.
“Having taken into account feedback from members and partners over the past few months and after deep introspection it became apparent that Impact Hub Johannesburg must once again set targets for the next stage of innovation and impact. In short, Johannesburg deserves a world class Impact Hub and in its current form and location it is simply not good enough to do so,” the Impact Hub founders said.
“The emergence of the business development and social innovation sectors have forced Impact Hub Johannesburg to focus internally to understand the value that it plays not only in the City of Johannesburg but also in South Africa as a whole,” the founders said.
Impact Hub said a team is now working behind the scenes to reinvent the organisation, and design a new Hub that the organisation’s partners, and Johannesburg more widely, can be “proud of associating with”.