The Impact Hub Fellowship Program – From Idea to Impact

How did the collaboration begin?

In 2011, with the aim of supporting impact-driven entrepreneurs as key levers to transform society, the Fellowship program on climate change & environmental sustainability was launched by Impact Hub Zurich in partnership with WWF Switzerland. The Impact Hub Fellowship is a topic-focused entrepreneurial idea award and a one-year incubation program designed to attract, select and support impact entrepreneurs and help them realize their innovations for a more sustainable world. The first Fellow, Urban Farmers, was awarded in this inaugural program, and from here the story unfolds.

What was the approach of the program?

At the time, the Impact Hub network counted with a bit more than 30 Impact Hubs globally, representing an opportunity to make a difference at scale by replicating the program collaboratively within the network and inviting other organizations to partner. This step was formulated and enabled by an initial funding from WWF Switzerland, dedicated to support the initialisation of Fellowship programs in other Impact Hubs. The Impact Hub Fellowship Association, the scaling platform for the program, was born as a result and has so far enabled 31 editions of the program supporting over 100 entrepreneurs in 15 cities. All in all, though the supported ventures, the lives of over 1’2 million beneficiaries around the world have been positively affected.

Why was this only possible together? 

Concretely, through the strong collaboration with WWF, we have so far implemented two additional Fellowships in Switzerland, a Fellowship in Bogota on biotrade and initiatives enhancing the biotrade value change in partnership with WWF Colombia, and one in Manila on sustainable energy solutions in partnership with WWF Philippines and the Peace and Equity Foundation. Few additional nodes of WWF and Impact Hub networks (e.g., Brazil, Italy and Greece) are currently fundraising to launch the program in 2017.

From all the Impact Hub Fellowships those 5 were fully or partially financed by WWF but only until the concept created momentum and attracted other partners, which enabled 25 additional fellowship programs. Multiple partners have been engaged locally and globally (e.g., AXA, Cordaid, Swiss Re, IDB, Mercator Foundation, Swisscom, Munich Re, Instituto Asas) on various social or environmental themes (e.g., longevity, resilient communities, ICT for good, children & youth empowerment) and the program selected 34 Fellows in very diverse places (e.g., London, Caracas, Johannesburg, Madrid, etc).

We are on a mission to improve the status-quo through entrepreneurship and social innovation, and we want to do it together. The Fellowship program offers a proven format to channel this collaborative energy. Going forward even more so, since we will soon launch the Fellowship Blueprint: a rich collection of best practices, templates and learnings to help with the implementation of the Fellowship program. Stay tuned for updates in the Tool section.

For a concrete example of an Impact Hub Fellowship, take a look at the Story of Manila’s Fellowship or for further info about the impact this program created see the factsheet or the Story of Urban Farmers.

103 Ventures
incubated in 15 cities and 13 countries all around the world
1.3 Mio Beneficiaries
were positively affected by only 40 of those ventures
10.7 Mio USD
raised in investment capital

Partnership Toolkit

Both WWF and Impact Hub are locally-rooted global networks and our partnership is locally driven as well. We’ve compiled this toolkit to make it easier to start collaborations in your country. We hope it serves as a good source of inspiration and encourage you to build a local partnership with Impact Hub that works best in your context.

More Tools

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Do you want to start working with us, do you have ideas or questions? The first step is simple – get in touch with us and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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