It's no surprise that female entrepreneurs are affected by high unemployment rates and the gender…
#ImpactOnTour’s next stop this year is Impact Hub Madrid: at the forefront of innovation.
What do we mean when we talk about ‘impact’? Beyond strategies and methodologies, social or individual changes arise from a personal discovery, from the infectiousness of being around others or unexpected alliances… At Impact Hub we inspire, connect and encourage professionals and companies making a positive impact with their business activity. But, what does this look like in real terms?
Here are 3 impactful stories helped along by Impact Hub Madrid through its different business units: coworking, events and projects. Three clear and tangible examples that illustrate our understanding of a positive impact and how we help to create it.
Mercenatura: discovering your entrepreneurial spirit at 50
Mercedes Rodríguez or Merce knew just how to take advantage of life’s setbacks to become a fierce and fearless woman. At the age of 10, she met her biological parents and after her divorce, she turned her focus to bringing up her children who have chronic arthritis.
With them in mind, she started Mercenatura, a business dealing with heat packs, gauntlets and other products made from olive pits whose heat power and medicinal properties give relief to people with chronic pain or degenerative diseases.
Her project was chosen as a finalist in the Coca-Cola 2017 GIRA Mujeres Program, a female entrepreneurship scheme which Impact Hub Madrid and other organizations took part in. As a finalist, Merce was awarded a place on a 6-month bespoke incubation program at Impact Hub Madrid – Alameda and mentorship with Leyre Romero, also an entrepreneur and the co-founder of the social consultancy firm Areteia, with whom she still enjoys a close and trusty relationship. “Merce uses all kinds of tools to get ahead. She’s so resilient and capable of turning obstacles into opportunities and as an entrepreneur, I admire her”, states Leyre, who now works with the Impact Hub Madrid team as process coordinator.
Merce takes her products to around 15 annual artisan fairs and is focusing on her marketing efforts and internationalization plan as well as her future goals. In addition, she gives talks to survivors of gender violence and encourages them to believe in themselves. “This mentorship has given me reassurance and has really empowered me to move forward at the age of 50. My motto is: ‘If I can do it, anyone can’. Now I know that I’m worth it.”
Sugaro: a shift towards sustainable catering
Our daily work can be a great scenario for the introduction of impactful changes. Sugaro, one of the regular catering providers that Impact Hub Madrid works with on its premises, has experienced this process.
Tomás Suárez-Olea, the company’s co-founder, tells us how Sugaro has changed its way of working as a result of this relationship. “The Events Department at Impact Hub Madrid asked us to shift our working methods towards sustainability, recycling and elimination of plastic. At the beginning it was difficult, but working with a client like that ends up raising your awareness little by little. We realized how much waste we were generating in our business”.
The change began at the start of 2018 by eliminating plastic water bottles and cans. Then came the special rubbish bags, recycling every single thing we touched and using resealable, reusable containers… “At the start it was slow and complicated, but you get to a point where it becomes faster and then you want to overhaul all your processes completely”.
The next step is to influence your suppliers and convince them of these practices. “We asked them to not to bring us products wrapped in plastic. It’s complicated because all products come packaged in it. However, we believe in our own experience: our transformation has convinced us that this is the best path to take and there’s no way back. In fact, when you incorporate these practices into your work, you’re surprised that it’s not more widespread”.
What do your clients think of this transformation? “There are some clients—a small number—who continue requesting plastic bottles at events, so we charge them extra for that. But, in general, our clients are well informed and end up being grateful for the change, because for them it’s also a change for the better for their clients, and to their corporate image above all. If you’re holding an event in their offices, the company ends up learning not to use small plastic bottles, for example. And I’m seeing an increasing reduction in plastic at vending machines or that they provided water in cardboard boxes”, adds the co-founder of Sugaro.
Laura Alonso, the event manager at Impact Hub Madrid, explains the commitment of the entrepreneurial space’s network: “We’re aware of the role we play in the area of sustainability at our events. Spurred on by the B Corp certification, we try to raise awareness among our partners, we talk to them and give them all the tools they need to work towards a common goal: events that are fairer towards the planet and in line with its resources. To support those in catering, we have adapted our kitchens and stores, in addition to having our own waste management system on the premises”.
There is still one challenge to overcome: finding a replacement for the plastic wrap normally used to cover trays of canapés. “It’s by far the most complicated thing to substitute in the hospitality industry”, assures Tomás.
The founding of the Asociación de Mujeres Emprendedoras in Valencia
Oftentimes, the expansive wave of an impactful project is greater than expected. That’s what happened in Valencia in 2018 after the GIRA Mujeres Weekend organized by the Impact Hub Madrid Projects team in this city. It’s a free training program that Impact Hub Madrid promotes as part of the GIRA Mujeres Coca-Cola project, which has been touring different Spanish cities for years now, and offering workshops to women who want to improve their employability or start up a project.
“We’re seeking to bring the maximum amount of content in the most dynamic way possible in partnership with experts in each of the subjects taught. And, the best part of the project is that it contributes to creating synergies among the participants and fostering a community among female entrepreneurs”, highlights Sonia Pérez, the head of the initiative at Impact Hub.
In June 2018, Susana González was encouraged to take part in these workshops in the spirit of her idea to create a project to improve coexistence between dogs and people: “I signed up because I was tremendously curious about discovering tools that would help me to grow, learn and share my experience with other women in my situation of setting up a business”, states the founder of Educan.
During the weekend of intensive training for female entrepreneurs, she had an awakening: she spoke with a lot of women in the same situation as her, they exchanged experiences… and she got the chance to meet Amparo Prósperi, a lawyer, and Sandra Fuster, an economist. They are founders and members of a firm called Elipse and taught the module on human resources and legal matters.
This combination convinced Susana of the need to revive the Asociación de Mujeres Emprendedoras de la Comunidad Valenciana (Entrepreneurial Women’s Association of the Community of Valencia), an organization formed 20 years ago but which quickly became defunct. And that’s how the Association went about updating their legal status, definition and operations, and got up and running.
The association currently has 44 members. Susana is the chairperson and is updating its strategic plan to include the provision of free, high-quality training for female entrepreneurs, facilitating the founding of female-led companies and setting up information and collaboration networks.
“Getting together into this associative framework has enabled us to find out about extremely valuable training and information. I’m so thankful for the fact that the Impact Hub training has brought us together and made us more powerful as female entrepreneurs. The journey we’re embarking on is getting exciting!”
These three impactful stories demonstrate Impact Hub Madrid’s work as a support ecosystem for entrepreneurs who want to make an impact. If you also want to change the world, you have a transformative project or want to organize an inspirational event, then why not join our network?
Tune in to Impact Hub Madrid’s #ImpactOnTour takeover of the Impact Hub Global Facebook and Instagram channels from the 17th- 21st of June for a sneak peak into their unique location, community events, and impactful programs.