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A new Impact Hub for Waikato

A new Impact Hub for Waikato

Trust Waikato and Wintec are working together to bring an Impact Hub to the Waikato.

Impact Hub Network is the world’s largest network focused on building entrepreneurial communities for impact at scale — home to the innovators, the dreamers and the entrepreneurs who are creating tangible solutions to the world’s most pressing issues.

The global network focused on building communities for impact at scale was founded in Austria. With more than 100 communities of more than 16,000 change-driven entrepreneurs in 50-plus countries across five continents, Impact Hub is the world’s largest community and accelerator for positive change.

Trust Waikato gave a grant to Wintec to scope out the project and to pay for a co-ordinator for six months who would find out what the appetite was for a potential founder or co-founders.

That job went to contractor Jessie Liu while Wintec centre director, Centre for Research and Applied Innovation, Mariana Van der Walt, has been leading the project.

“During those six months, wide consultation and awareness building took place and now one group has submitted an official application to become an Impact Hub,” Mariana said.

The application process involves getting the go-ahead from the global network itself.

The Waikato will only get to have an Impact Hub if the application is what the Impact Hub Program is looking for. They are quite strict in their criteria.

But those pushing for the hub believe it’s only a matter of time as there has been a lot of positive feedback from people interested in developing the hub in the region.

Chief executive of Trust Waikato Dennis Turton said social enterprises contributed positively to improving lives and offered people alternatives that had a positive flow on effect to society.

“They are often more environmentally sustainable and take a holistic approach. The Waikato region is well placed to deliver new social enterprises as there is easy connectivity between key stakeholders, an entrepreneurial spirit and it is a more affordable place to pilot innovative social enterprise projects,” Dennis said.

Trust Waikato communications manager Natalie Jessup said the next phase was getting approval to run a candidate Impact Hub, and then setting up revenue-generating ideas, because after two years the Impact Hub was expected to be self-sustaining.

“Basically, once Impact Hubs are set up they are funded through programs that they run, such as entrepreneurial workshops, or a workshop on how to get funding, or how to run an ethical business etc.,” Natalie said.

The first Impact Hub event in the Waikato was about a year ago when two speakers came from the Netherlands to talk about what Impact Hubs do.

Those in attendance learned how they impact society. They showcased some different social enterprise organisations, to give an idea of the flavour and directions that it could go in.

Their hubs are physical spaces for people who are starting up social enterprises and they help them with a lot of training, mentoring and enabling them to get access to funding as well.

Late last month they had another event where Wintec brought out two more speakers – one from the Impact Hub Network that oversees all the Impact Hubs around the world, and one who was the director of Impact Hub Philippines. 

The purpose of their visit was to celebrate the work that has been done towards setting up an Impact Hub in New Zealand so far, and to workshop and discuss 'next steps'. 

The decision of where in the Waikato the hub would be is yet to be made.

There had been a lot of interest to put it in the Coromandel, but also some strong interest to have it in Hamilton. But once a pilot site is set up, the hub could also go around the region with pop-up sites and run programs. 

An Impact Hub in Waikato would be the first in the Australasia/Pacific area and would act as a model and a base to connect social entrepreneurs, community groups, business and government, locally and globally, to lead and foster social enterprise developments across the region. 

“Now is an opportune time to capitalise on, and invest in, the strong energy and enthusiasm for social enterprise,” Mariana said.

For more information about Impact Hub developments in the Waikato please contact Mariana Van der Walt at Dennis Turton at

You can view the first Community Impact event with Impact Hub speakers Jesper Kjelleras and Wieke van der Zouwen here.

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