An interview with Ms. Sophie Lamprou, Co-Founder, Impact Hub Athens
When, how and why was Impact Hub Athens established?
The Impact Hub Athens was established in 2013 with the intention to make systematic and systemic change in a participatory, ethical and sustainable way. We care about the planet and the people, and we want to support, enable and connect the people who are dedicated to drive impact-oriented businesses. With this dream, we kicked off the Impact Hub in Athens, after having studied and very well understood the community building, entrepreneurial support and connector’s job in the Impact Hubs of Madrid and Vienna.
How can somebody become part of the Impact Hub Community?
If you are interested in social economy, positive entrepreneurship and have inspirational ideas, you will find a reason to be part of our community. You could join our workspace, organize events, scale your innovative idea, or participate in educational programs to drive social innovation. We offer a diverse set of subscription packages that allow you to work, learn and connect within the Impact Hub. All packages are designed to be both affordable and allow you to customize your subscription to your professional needs and preferences. We encourage teams to visit us and meet our team.
How do members of the Impact Hub Athens interact and collaborate with members of international Impact Hubs?
Among all the Impact Hubs we have the community app, a platform where our members can interact, share resources, promote their businesses, seek for partners, clients and mentors, and discuss about topics that matter to them. At the same time, our community catalysts and their hosting team- all the Impact Hubs have these roles, who knit the communities, understand the needs of the members and support them in growing their businesses, are also responsible of connecting the members with the local, national and international network, in a more direct way.
What are the benefits of a member team of the Impact Hub Athens?
Impact Hub Athens is a community of social driven entrepreneurs and high impact, creative professionals that are dedicated to prototyping the future of business. Collaborating closely with several organizations and experts both locally and on a global scale, Impact Hub Athens designs educational programs, organizes inspiring events and offers its members access to resources, innovative concepts and high-end professional services while creating unique networking and growth opportunities for them. Together with our members, we grow a locally rooted, globally connected community for measurable positive impact.
What are the challenges of social entrepreneurship in Greece?
From the time we have started to work with social entrepreneurship overall, we have seen that one of the biggest challenges is the lack of business drive and business knowledge of the majority of social entrepreneurs. Usually, the prime incentive is to “attack” the social issue they are “angry” about, often leaving the business imperatives in oblivion. Our role is to bring the business perspective into the social ventures that need it, through our programmes that support social businesses from idea to scaling.
A second challenge is that there is not a very clear understanding of the sector and its values in Greece, compared to other parts of the western world, where each consumer is more conscious about the power they have when they spend money. There is increasing consciousness about which bank consumers use, from where the products they buy come from, if they are seasonal, if they are fair trade, if they have been cultivated or grown with what impact in the environment, what is happening with the waste after the use, what are the conditions for work, if it is a fair price, etc. We are trying to bring this consciousness and information to the Greek public, through events that we run, research that we participate in, the EXPOs that we organize with the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity, various campaigns, and our latest project – the Kypseli Market. This consists of setting up the very first social economy market in Greece; a closed market where all the services (education, cultural, commercial) are run & delivered by impact driven organizations.
What is the future of Social Entrepreneurship in Greece?
We continuously see that social entrepreneurship is becoming more and more mature in Greece. The sector attracts more experienced and business minded entrepreneurs, important stakeholders are looking at how to be involved with the social impact sector and are raising questions around a more ethical, accessible, transparent and sustainable system. Investors are creating social innovation focused funds, while other funding organizations explore how they can support financially social businesses as their impact is more sustainable long term and the grant works as seed funding for innovation for social impact. The government also provides more incentives for the social economy with new funding and support tools, while creating tax incentives for new social businesses and investing in the sector’s promotion through, e.g., commercial EXPOs. Municipalities are exploring new models of collaborations with social businesses too. There are examples of joint programmes with the objective of upgrading services and community building. Finally, academia is studying practices and models to codify the new knowledge around social solidarity economy, as an alternative system, they engage in partnerships with social entrepreneurs and integrate, as the MBA International, ethical and sustainability issues in their curriculum, thus creating awareness and knowledge about these subjects among future entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Globally, the social entrepreneurship movement is becoming stronger, and we see that in Greece it starts to become more aligned with the global trends, it gains traction and offers more and more qualitative and competitive products and services, which gradually supports more beneficiaries and presents an ever-growing number success stories with important impact on society at large.