Social entrepreneurship is about finding new and exciting, large-scale solutions to social problems. Social enterprises are not to be confused with non-profit organisations however, because the former are often for-profit entities. What makes social enterprises different is that while they often do measure profit and returns as a measure of success, they are ultimately focused on making a positive impact on society.
The Impact Hub Johannesburg, founded by social entrepreneur Lesley Williams is one such enterprise.
“The market started to change after 2010. There is more knowledge now about social enterprise and I think companies are starting to shift away from only giving funding to NGOs. They understand the sustainability of the organisation,” says Williams.
The Impact Hub is a global network and has 8 000 members. While the Impact Hub Johannesburg, which is based in Braamfontein, usually has a community of 150 who regularly attend events, they currently have 45 members and are on a serious drive to increase their membership. But they are very specific about they type of entrepreneurs they want to attract.
We have put the word out that we’re looking for growth-orientated entrepreneurs who want to make an impact
“We have put the word out that we’re looking for growth-orientated entrepreneurs who want to make an impact. And our community is happy with that,” says Williams.
The Impact Hub Johannesburg is a space that connects social entrepreneurs, giving them a physical space where they can interact with other members and like-minded individuals. The hub provides co-working space, membership by the hour, venue hire, thought-leadership dialogues and a social impact accelerator programme, among other benefits.
The organisation hosts themed business events centered on making a social impact. Past speakers and visitors have included experts from esteemed institutions including The Duke Business School (in the US), INSEAD Business School (France), IE Business School (Spain) and GIBS (Johannesburg).
Thought leaders who have visited the Impact Hub Johannesburg and engaged in dialogue include former First Lady Zanele Mbeki, National Development Plan Commissioner Miriam Altman, Wits University Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib, Abigail Noble of the World Economic Forum and businesswoman Wendy Luhabe.