Impact Hub Africa
The global entrepreneurial network in Africa
Impact Hubs are much more than co-working spaces. They are innovation labs and entrepreneurial centers that provide networking space for businesses in various branches and phases of development. The Impact Hubs can be found in more than 100 locations globally. They play an important role in establishing an ecosystem for new businesses anywhere in the world that focus on social and environmental impact. Since 2014, Siemens Stiftung’s Africa Seed Program has supported development of the Impact hubs and the creation of makerspaces in African cities.
Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa
The Impact Hub strategy in Africa is based on the idea of connecting enthusiastic social entrepreneurs and startups. Siemens Stiftung supports this vision as part of the Africa Seed Program, along with the Argidius Foundation and the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. Currently, there are eight Impact Hubs in Africa: Accra (Ghana), Bamako (Mali), Lagos (Nigeria), Harare (Zimbabwe), Khartoum (Sudan), Kigali (Rwanda), Bujumbura (Burundi), and Johannesburg (South Africa).
Creating, inventing, and networking – the globally expanding network of Impact Hubs supports enthusiastic entrepreneurs and independent professionals in their development. Beyond the global networking possibilities, the innovative ecosystem provides strong regional support with an active local community. This local expertise is important for finding effective approaches to solving environmental and societal challenges. There is plenty of common ground between the hub concept and our Development Cooperation working area. In our empowering people. Network, we connect social entrepreneurs and inventors who take an entrepreneurial approach to improving basic services with technological solutions. Like the hubs, our network emphasizes the acquisition of skills and knowledge transfer to expand the impact of solutions that work.
Providing the right tools
Makerspaces provide the infrastructure and technology needed to harness the creativity and ideas of local innovators. This gives social entrepreneurs a simple, no-fuss opportunity to develop, construct, and test prototypes. Digital modeling and design thinking concepts are part of the process. The idea for the makerspaces arose from close collaboration between Siemens Stiftung and the Impact Hubs in Africa. Members of the empowering people. Network can use the resources of the innovation lab while engaging in a regional entrepreneurial dialog, with an emphasis on solving local problems relating to basic services. The first makerspace was launched at the Impact Hub in Accra.
Since launching the Africa Seed Program in 2014, eight Impact Hubs have been created – three of which house makerspaces. These are designed to become an integral part of an innovative entrepreneurial environment and to encourage productive dialog between each regional location in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Creating a strong regional team in Accra
The first concrete solution in our Waste Management & Recycling sector is a specially-designed composting facility, which was developed at the Impact Hub and makerspace in the Ghanaian capital. Solutions in the Healthcare, Food & Agriculture, and Shelter sectors are also on the horizon. The local network in Accra includes 100 members and up to 7,000 people from the wider community.
Following the initial ‘Local Maker’ workshops, additional events on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are in the mix. Siemens Stiftung has already put the creative space to use in April 2017, conducting an on-site training called ‘Rapid Prototyping.’ As the most experienced hub in the regional network, the Accra location has a special role to play: Their ‘best practices and lessons learned’ are shared with new hubs as they get started.
Newest member of the regional network in Africa: Impact Hub Lagos
The Impact Hub Lagos opened in 2018 and is the newest member of the network. The new co-working space in Nigeria is addressing societal problems with promising technological solutions. Similar to other locations, the Nigerian makerspace will also look specifically at issues in the Waste Management & Recycling, Healthcare, Food & Agriculture, and Shelter sectors.
Are you interested in the further development of the Impact Hubs in Africa and cooperation with the Siemens Stiftung?
Please contact us!