Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m thrilled to be talking to Archana Shah, Co-founder and COO of Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area, to understand the organization’s vision and approach to support talented entrepreneurs advancing UN SDGs.
Q. What kind of a world does ImpactHub New York envisage and how is the organization working towards it?
Archana: To realize our vision of creating an integrated equitable impact ecosystem in the New York Metropolitan Area, we will continue to create opportunities for stakeholders to intentionally collaborate through formal and informal partnership agreements. We are cementing our identity within the existing ecosystem by creating a culture of cooperation and partnership. This is reflected in the breadth and scope of our Advisory Board members expertises and networks. It is reflected in the speakers, experts and facilitators we have featured in our programs to-date. Our members represent the breadth of the impact ecosystem from innovators to investors, academics to practitioners, nonprofits to for profits. Through these intentional partnerships, we will not recreate but rather recognize and reorganize existing resources making them visible and accessible more widely and equitably. We believe this will benefit the whole ecosystem. We are committed to the deliberate and consistent approach needed if we are to be a credible ecosystem builder within the Metropolitan Area.
Q. We would love for you to talk about some specific initiative or organization that has made tremendous social impact with your support.
Archana: As we emerge from the effects of the pandemic, the landscape is going to look very different. We are inviting stakeholders to collaborate across programs, community building, funding, sponsorships, or other areas of interest, and while the process takes time and effort, I believe it will have tremendous collective impact from which we all will benefit.
Our Blueprint Impact Fellowship invites advisors, experts, practitioners into group working sessions from time to time - several are past accelerator participants. It has been truly inspirational to not only see their journeys play out, but more importantly, see the generosity of support they bring to the cohort.
Q. Please tell us a lit bit about your ongoing programs and how they’re helping entrepreneurs / driving impact.
Archana: Impact State of Mind: The COVID-19 pandemic prompted us to make a significant pivot to fully-remote operations and virtual programming for the foreseeable future. Impact State of Mind launched in May 2020 as a free digital membership series designed to support the Metro Area impact community navigating the pandemic. Since launching the program in May, we have hosted over 50 sessions spanning a wide range of topics related to entrepreneurial education, community engagement, storytelling, business needs in the context of the economic outlook etc. We continually curate content and formats to engage and support the impact-driven community locally and regionally in the New York Metropolitan Area, while also leveraging our network of 100+ hubs to showcase global ecosystems at work.
Blueprint 2021: Impact Fellowship is an accelerator focused on igniting and supporting the Metropolitan Area wide impact innovation community, through a business model validation process, peer and expert engagement and network building. The first cohort of approximately 15 startups launched in Q1 This is our first program focused on intentional engagement of the Metro Area, and with identified spread-the-word partners who we believe represent our target communities best.
The last 15 months have caused disruption, upheaval and in many cases destructions of ecosystems, resulting in a real loss of support - peer connections, resources, capital- but also just general isolation. At the core, all our programs focus on wide community engagement, not to be everything for everyone, but to try and create a sense of belonging and community in a largely virtual world, a critical need.
Q. What advice would you like to share with social entrepreneurs striving to make the world a better place?
Archana: Without getting too peppy or esoteric, my advice would be to stay tenacious and stay focused despite the challenging environment. The stark realities of how broken our communities are across social and environmental metrics locally, regionally and globally has never been more apparent. The world is catching up to this realization, and as a social innovator you are already leading this change - now is the time to dig deeper, stay rooted and fight harder to create change.
Archana is the COO & Co-founder of Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area. After spending the first 18 years of her career in the financial services sector, first at J.P. Morgan and then at Morgan Stanley in various client facing and product development roles, Archana left Morgan Stanley in 2012 to pursue her passion for social innovation full-time. She joined Grameen America as a Director in Development, during which time she also chaired the New York chapter of Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM) for several years. For the past six years, Archana managed the day to day operations of a university based social entrepreneurship center, running programs for the university community of students, staff and faculty while engaging with stakeholders in the impact ecosystem. In January 2020 she joined the founding team of Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area.