Impact Hub Westminster

I first visited Impact Hub Westminster during my London visit in January 2015. I had met Richard Brownsdon back then who was just about to fly off to work on his own venture – Inspiring Adventures – in a social enterprise retreat in Bali. I figured that interesting people work in interesting places. Back in January we had gotten around to a match of table tennis but not much more and I was keen to follow up with him on this second trip to London.

Impact Hub Westminster is located on a large floor on New Zealand House in Mayfair, close to Piccadilly Circus. You sign in with security, receive a visitor pass and already feel like you are about to witness something important. That day, 180 people (conservative estimate) were working away when I walked in. It was a busy environment that urged me to get going with the interview, too. Time is money.

Impact Hub Westminster was founded in 2011 and is one of the four Impact Hubs in London. I was surprised to find that both programs running at the time were free of charge for the entrepreneurs. Raise Impact is a crowdfunding program that coaches entrepreneurs through the process of setting up and running a crowdfunding campaign. It offers free classes in PR & marketing, creation & logistics, deal structuring and pitching.

copyright by Impact Hub Westminster

copyright by Impact Hub Westminster

Secondly, Richard and his team only just finished the Impact Investment Ready Program – a two-day course on assessing your investment readiness and approaching impact investors successfully. Both programs are funded by the European Union and therefore free to participants. For the first time it occurred to me that offering programs for free is great if you can afford it. At the same time it sets the tone within this sector that some support is for free while other programs may charge for a similar service. I stand by my view that support programs for social entrepreneurs represent a quality service that is worth investing in from the side of the social entrepreneur.

I ask Richard what he thinks makes a good support program. “Give entrepreneurs what they need, when they need it. During their startup phase, founder teams have so much else on their plates, they need to balance their priorities and any good program should be able to provide just in time learning.”

Since my visit in April, Impact Hub Westminster launched Impact Scholarship 2015 – a scholarship program for social entrepreneurs developing clean energy solutions. This is the start of the support that Impact Hub Westminster will be offering to cleantech companies in the coming months and years, with a new cleantech accelerator scheduled to start in 2016.

Impact Hub Westminster is a great example of a local and global community alike, and a co-working space built around it. If you are ever in London and need a co-working desk, make sure to stop by Impact Hub Westminster! With 12,000 square foot it’s huge and you are guaranteed to meet great people!

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