This article was first published on The Prestige Magazine
1. Please tell us about Impact Hub Dhaka and how it has formed?
Impact Hub Dhaka is an innovation lab, an inspiring space, and a locally rooted globally connected community. We are part of the fast-growing global Impact Hub network of impact entrepreneurs and innovators with more than 16,000 members in over 100 cities around the world. Globally, Impact Hub offers their members a unique ecosystem of resources, collaborative spaces, entrepreneurial communities, and capacity building programs that inspire, connect and enable impact.
Impact Hub Dhaka was formed because we believe with an Impact Hub in Dhaka we will have the ability to revolutionize the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Dhaka and enable entrepreneurs and organizations to be more impact driven and sustainable. Bangladesh is the home of social business and has a startup ecosystem that has gone through a remarkable transformation and is finally coming of age. With a combined effort with our community we will be able to create a world of three zeros – zero unemployment, zero carbon emission and zero poverty.
2. With what vision Impact Hub Dhaka has been launched?
We want to create a Bangladesh where everyone thrives. We will inspire and enable entrepreneurs and organizations to be more impact driven and sustainable to accelerate the sustainable socio-economic growth of Bangladesh.
3. How is Impact Hub currently impacting Dhaka and what is its ultimate mission?
Impact Hub Dhaka will be bringing people together from all across Bangladesh thus giving life to a diversified community of different culture and background. Our unique ecosystem of entrepreneurs, creators, freelancers, changemakers, idea generators and artists will be able to come together with the unique opportunity to share ideas, collaborate create the change we need. We believe that the key is to facilitate collaborations in order to tackle our world’s most pressing issues. Under the umbrella of shared concerns, we aim to nurture fraternity among people from different sectors and experiences, strengthening the linkage that leads to collective progress in our country.
Our ultimate mission is to accomplish our vision by mobilizing this vibrant community of entrepreneurs through inspiring space, meaningful content & diverse network. This will be a platform where entrepreneurs can resort to when they are in a quest for inspiration and fresh perspective. The idea is to harness the power to our youth community and enable them to be the agents of change.
4. What are the services it is providing right now?
a. Memberships: We offer five different types of memberships depending on an entrepreneur’s or an individual’s needs. All the members get privileged access to our collaborative workspace, community-led events and a vibrant local & Global Impact Hub community.
b. Offices: At our space, we offer ready-to-go private office spaces offer startups all the amenities they need to hit the ground running.
c. Meeting Rooms and Event Spaces: Impact Hub offers space for meeting and events to community and external members. We can host variety of formats – from two-person meetings to 70+ person gatherings.
d. Community Events and Innovation Programs: Innovation programs like innovation challenges, hackathons, bootcamps are organized in collaboration with Development Partners and Corporations.
e. Ecosystem Building Activities: Programs and activity that support impact first startups, investors and organization by providing them with advice, guidance, training, strategy, partnerships and R&D; mostly sponsored or contracted by development partners and corporations.
f. Hub Passport: Impact Hub members will be able to take advantage of the Impact Hub Global Network. The Impact Hub Passport is a way to encourage members to stay connected when travelling; members with a coworking plan get to use the Hub Passport to work at other Hubs across the world. The Global aspect is important to many of our members. This gives them a chance to experience the unique spirit of each Hub and to connect with the global network.
5. Can you describe about the impact hub team and how they actually work?
Impact Hub Dhaka founding team consists of four co-founders with complementary and diverse skills and a total experience of 45 years in the field of social business, technology, innovation and agri-businesses. Their experience includes initiating and managing incubation and acceleration programs, microfinance institutions, curating global youth conferences and managing design agencies.
The team is passionate about the core values and visions of Impact Hub, and believes in creative connections and strategic possibilities to create a better and sustainable world.
6. What work culture do you maintain and how does the office space reflect that culture?
As Impact Hub Dhaka is an open community, with a culture to ensure that the members share a sense of inclusiveness, and are socially and politically aware, willing to learn and explore with their strong faith in collective progress through an action-oriented approach towards impacting the lives of citizens of Bangladesh.
Our Shared Values:
Sustainability: We care deeply about minimizing our environmental, social and economic impact on the planet to the benefit of a more sustainable future for the coming generation.
Transparency: We are honest and open and our actions are scrupulous enough to bear public scrutiny.
Equality: We treat all people fairly and with dignity and everyone should be able to embrace opportunities for education, economic success and a fulfilling life.
HappYYness: We believe in doing the work that gives us great joy, our reason to jump out of bed every morning.
7. What are the current opportunities you are seeing for co-working office space?
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, we are all confined, we can not go back to our offices but most importantly thousands of small businesses are in the verge of drowning and are failing to continue operations because of expenses. May of them are leaving their offices; but at the end of the day we understand entrepreneurs need some address, entrepreneurs often need to find a place to meet their community. For the time being, virtual platforms are emerging as a solution but also everyday we are getting so many phone calls from people who are constantly in need of a place that they can call an office for their work. Since many startups and small businesses are reducing their size, they are not being able to afford highly expensive offices and are in the lookout for an affordable office space. We want to be standing by the side of these changemakers and that is where Impact Hub Dhaka comes in and we strongly believe Impact Hub Dhaka is going to play a strong role as we create a post-corona Bangladesh by supporting these changemakers.
8. What are some of the goals Impact Hub Dhaka is trying to achieve in coming days?
a. Build the largest community of entrepreneurs and innovators in the country.
b. Accelerate the Social Business movement together to create a thriving Bangladesh.
9. What experience you want one to have when someone is walking in the office?
Impact Hubs want to inspire, connect and enable positive change across diverse contexts and economies. They do this in order to prove that the future profit of business’ is found in projects that serve not only people, but the planet as well.
At Impact Hub Dhaka, members will walk in to find a prosperous community with all kinds of people: social entrepreneurs, startups, employees of partner companies, students and more.
It is a major goal of the Impact Hub network to bring together different partners to create something new. It is a home for innovators, dreamers and entrepreneurs, all of whom are creating tangible solutions to reconstructing a stronger world through this pandemic. At Impact Hub, our members believe a better world takes shape when creative, committed, and compassionate people come together for a common purpose. That’s why our environment and services are tailored to support this. Each member of our community will be key in creating the Hub experience, our members come from eclectic backgrounds, but they are united in their mission to use business as a vehicle for change.
10. How do you measure your organization’s success?
Organic growth is very important to our business. We hope to attract a community of entrepreneurs, freelancers and small businesses who are driven by their passion. We want to keep growing every day and keep creating a supportive, collaborative ecosystem for those looking to create a positive impact. We can only create this Bangladesh if entrepreneurial, compassionate and committed individuals work towards a shared purpose.
11. What are some of the challenges being faced during this formation and how are they being overcome?
Overall, our experience of working in the entrepreneurship community of Dhaka shows us that many entrepreneurs cannot afford an office space in a commercial building because of its high expense. On the other side, there are hundreds of entrepreneurs and the most successful ones come from working class communities of Dhaka. Sadly, they do not have enough go-to places to grab a coffee and work inexpensively. We want to solve this problem and that is why we have picked Mirpur, a location close to nature in a working-class neighborhood. We have a world class building here with 20+ large social businesses joining us in the next year.
Raising money and meeting all the requirements to form an Impact Hub in Dhaka was a big challenge for us. Our team has been working on this for more than 18 months to get this into the right shape; but once we were ready, we were hit by the pandemic! Nevertheless, we are working hard to stay true to our vision and values and we still see the fantastic opportunities ahead to support growing businesses in Bangladesh.
12. What are the upcoming projects coming next from Impact Hub and what type of events are best suited with Impact Hub?
We are currently planning Community Events around sustainability, circularity, social business, wellness, entrepreneurship, recycling, etc. to inspire and connect like-minded entrepreneurs to foster collaboration.
We are already in conversation with our members to understand what kind of knowledge and support they need. We are also collaborating with many industry experts, corporates, and development partners to organize Hackathons, Bootcamps & Innovation challenges to support the growth of our members.
13. How people can reach Impact Hub and how to get its services?
Impact Hub Dhaka welcomes both established businesses and aspiring startups as we aim to pull in a wide range of expertise, and by doing so, we are creating a bridge through which thoughts, ideas as well as services can be exchanged.