The Hub

Posted by editor 15/11/2013 0 Comment 2251 views



The Hub Islington is perched on the fourth floor of a converted warehouse, in an old fashioned, cobbled street behind Angel station. Blink and you might miss it.  You climb four sets of stairs taking in the surroundings: grey concrete walls, exposed gas pipes and frayed wires, reports Danielle Aumord.//

By contrast, though, in the ‘Hub’ space it’s actually a cosy with a conducive working environment. Freelancers, charity directors and members of social enterprises are spread out across the open-plan floor with wooden desks inter-connecting. There’s a cubby hole area for those that need a nap, and a makeshift kitchen/coffee bar area in another corner. I help myself to a drumstick from the communal sweets bowl. Lots of stuff here is shared.

Officially it’s described as a ‘co-working and collaboration space’, and its mantras include: ‘Impact cannot happen in isolation. It requires collective action.’

You  subscribe to their membership scheme, and then book however many hours of working space you need per month on a flexible basis.

The aim here is to support the growth of social enterprises and businesses. The Hub has three spaces in London, with 40 locations overall spread throughout five continents and over 7,000 members.

Debbie So, a 25-year-old Hub host from Montreal, explains that the Hub first started in 2005, with this spot being the original. “It was started by a group of young people, fresh out of school, who wanted to make a place where people could work on businesses that positively change  the world. We support them by providing this space, through networking and through Hub events.”

One of these weekly events is a workshop co-hosted by members Freeformers. They provide digital training for the members and free access for young people aged 16 to 25, who are also interested in developing social enterprises.

Participants get to develop key skills such as web building and coding. Debbie points out to me that the advantages of this is that the members and trainees get to “prototype their businesses much faster.”

The Hub Youth Academy is another project due to launch next week (within Global Entrepreneurship Week, commencing November 18). Workshops on social impact reporting, and structuring investment-capital for social enterprises will headline. The aim is “to support young people that want to do business as if people and the world matters.”

Trainees will  receive a whole year of informal mentoring and hosted support. “There will be people to ask them if they need any help,” Debbie adds, outlining how the youth academy will function. “This is so that they don’t feel alone when they are starting businesses that have the aim of changing the world.”

In this one Hub alone there are plenty of organisations that are already making a dent this way. In one corner there’s an organisation that teaches Brazilian dancing to traumatised Middle Eastern children in refugee camps, in an attempt to facilitate their recovery. Sitting opposite them are a couple of ladies fundraising for children in hospices.  Then there’s the social enterprise who are encouraging consumers to buy food stocks collectively in a effort to lower food prices.

What it means is that socially conscious young entrepreneurs starting out here will be able to draw from a wealth of contacts and wisdom. It sounds like a recipe for success that will do more than just line a few people’s pockets, and an altogether better way to do business. Give them a round of applause!

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