It’s funny, all hubs, or co-working spaces I’ve been to, are somewhat hidden. They’re either hiding behind an anonymous door in a trainstation, a stairway in a busy shopping mall, or amidst one of many doorbells to a building with entrances on all four sides. Not being out in the open is somehow a paradox to these access-to all-feel-free-to-walk-in-spaces.
Found it. Impact Hub Amsterdam is on the first floor of the former local city hall on the right when you enter Westerpark crossing the red rope bridge. Hang on let me show you a picture, so you can find it easily too when you want to visit them.
It’s a long and stretchy hub this one, with light coming from windows and glass walls on both sides. The first part of the co-working space has private rooms in different sizes. Bee Collective held its first Wicked Problem Session here, on the 4th of September. (read about it in this blog, written by Maaike de Hon ). I remember the warmth and the hospitality during that day. As if we were at our own office, or at home even, free to do as we pleased.
Glass doors lead to the next space, a large, open room where you can hear a pin drop. This is the room where people work in silence. Tiptoeing through the room, again glass doors, giving access to the last space, with tables scattered around, a kitchen and a few standing tables.
Milena Kriek has been working here as a Space and bookings manager for almost two years now. “Entrepreneurship is key,” she says in the kitchen, situated in the centre of the mainspace. “Entrepreneurship is one of the key assets to drive sustainable and scalable solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. We need to fix them somehow to prevent the worst case scenarios, like floodings due to global warming, mass gentrification, or the 1%-99% gap to youth unemployment.”
The Impact Hub Amsterdam is one of 72 Impact Hubs worldwide. It opened its doors in 2008, two years after the first in downtown Londen, and has since gathered around 1500 entrepreneurs. The mission of the Impact Hub is to help and facilitate these entrepreneurs. By connecting their members to investors for example, by offering trainings, inviting people from large companies such as BMW Foundation and Siemens, or by actively connecting them to the 16.000 members of impact hubs worldwide. “We take on an active role in growing the field of social entrepreneurship. The social entrepreneurs are the ones that focus on both impact and profit. They are independent and often lack the basic infrastructure, such as an office, network, specific knowledge easy access to investors to grow their venture.” Members can access these services, network and the facilities by a paid membership, ranging from €25 to €1,175 per month.
A copper bell rings. Time to have – an optional - lunch. An fun and easy way to meet some of the other people in the room, like the Italian intern opposite us, working for AKKA Architects and trying to learn some Dutch on the way whilst working at the Impact Hub until Christmas. Or our neighbour, “pass me the cheese please,” Maarten Osieck from Social Bizzness.
Impact Hub looks for ways to make these independent entrepreneurs grow and increase the positive impact on the issues they work on. Here we see that Bee Collective could also be an interesting way to connect our network and reach to accelerate some of the solutions, according to Milena. “Bee Collective also aims to make them collaborate and form core teams and even companies. They are all a radar by themselves, and together they can be a bigger and stronger radar,” says Kriek.
The Impact Hub in Florianopolis in Brasil will be host of one of the eight Wicked Problem Sessions which are held in on November 20. “I’m really curious to see what’s going to happen, the idea that people with all sorts of expertise and ideas can contribute to a new kind of organisation excites me, it's very much in lign with Impact Hub” says Milena. A challenge however according to Kriek will be the sustainability of these new Pop Up Companies, or DCO’s (Decentralised Collective Organisations) as a business in the long run. Plenty of room for thought. And plenty of solutions too. Which are naturally plenty to find amongst the social entrepreneurs of Impact Hub in Amsterdam, Kriek believes. "Impact Hub plays by the rules of a new game, played by people who see things differently than the norm. Collaboration - from a deeply rooted believe in abundance versus a thought of scarcity - is the way how we pioneer and lead by example towards the future of work. We need to trust, join forces and connect; and make it happen."
Meet Impact Hub at Pakhuis de Zwijger on November 20th where you can have your own mini Impact Hub experience at their Pop-up Hub.