There are many coworking spaces in the Philippines as well as many business incubators, but none combine the two quite like Impact Hub Manila does.
Starting in London in 2005, Impact Hub opens shop in the country on Monday, June 1, 2015. It was brought to the Philippines by co-founders LizAn Kuster, Matt Jaeggi, and Ces Rondario. Rondario had consulted for firms of all sizes, across both business and social development, which is partly where the inspiration for Impact Hub came from.
“Over the years I’ve witnessed firsthand some really good ideas tank and talented individuals grow frustrated, ending with them closing shop,” she said and she could only do so much. To her, it came down to the fact that there were not enough platforms available to support entrepreneurs and their ideas.
According to Rondario, an entrepreneur needs more than just a vision to succeed.
“One needs a community of like-minded people, a conducive working environment, access to information, mentors, network, funding and a lot of coffee,” she said. “Impact Hub happens to have all of that. And I believe it’s about time it was brought to the Philippines.”
The Impact Hub branding
Impact Hub has been in existence for over 10 years, developing a range of boot camps, workshops, and incubation programs. As these programs are tried and tested, it’s easy for local communities to replicate and localize them. The Impact Hub branding also helps in attracting the participation of both local and international partners.
Rondario acknowledged that the business model of Impact Hub is quite complex. “There certainly are a lot of moving parts in the Impact Hub’s overall business model but it’s not all too different from other enterprises,” she said.
According to Rondario, the success of each Impact Hub location comes down to making sure that each of the business units (coworking, business incubation, and innovation lab) is running on the same vision: adding value to stakeholders and operating at the same level of excellence.
Securing the license to bring Impact Hub to the Philippines was not easy. Not every city that applies gets it. Rondario said that the global committee scrutinized their vision, their plans, and their team.
After obtaining the license, they faced even more challenges leading up to their June 1 launch. “From deciding on the location, finding the right partners, securing our permits to addressing cultural differences, we’ve all been through that,” she said, emphasizing that it was the team and their shared vision that got them through.
A global community
Most coworking spaces are first distinguished by their location. They can service the needs of local entrepreneurs and freelancers in the area.
Rondario said that what separates Impact Hub Manila from other coworking spaces is that it has a reach far beyond its location in Makati City.
“Having over 66 locations is one thing, but what clearly distinguishes us is the global ecosystem that we have built over the years. This consists of over 11,000 hubbers, mentors, and partners that no other space really has,” Rondario said.
The value here is not in the sheer number of Impact Hub stakeholders, but in the community that they have collectively built. “From ideas that are birthed within the space, we constantly make sure that the community gets the support they need – from access to information, connections, mentors, and curated programs that gives them access to funding,” she said.
As an example, Rondario cited the Impact Hub Fellowship Program, a one year topic-focused entrepreneurial idea incubation program. It is designed to attract, select, and support impact entrepreneurs in order to empower them in realizing their innovations for a more sustainable world. The Impact Hub name has helped land the support of some of the largest multinational companies for this program.
This program falls within Impact Hub Manila’s greater goal of serving entrepreneurs who want to address social issues. “Our primary objective is to foster a community of impact entrepreneurs and by that we mean entrepreneurs who are mindful of the triple bottom line – people, planet, and profit to ultimately drive progress,” she said.
Ultimately, Rondario and the Impact Hub Manila team will measure their success by how well they can leverage this community to change the country. “Chief of our aim is to be a place where mindsets are challenged, enterprises are started and scaled, entrepreneurs are empowered, and solutions for a better Philippines are created,” she said. – Rappler.com
Rappler Business columnist Ezra Ferraz brings you Philippine business leaders, their insights, and their secrets via Executive Edge. Connect with him on Twitter: @EzraFerraz