Hub in a Box: Sustainability lessons from around the world
14 December 2015 - Impact Hub

Hub in a Box: Sustainability lessons from around the world


What is Hub in a Box?

This December, AfriLabs, iceHubs Global and Impact Hub with support from British Council, Hivos, Indigo Trust, and the 1%Club, co-hosted Hub in a Box Sustainability Workshop for innovation spaces/hubs to crowdsource the best of what we know about revenue generation across different funding streams and types of spaces. Debbie So, Head of Partnerships at Impact Hub Islington, was invited to participate in this amazing experience.

Why financial sustainability?

We know that innovation spaces/hubs must thrive financially in order to deliver the best support possible to the communities they serve, but the road to sustainability is difficult. What we need is an effective, efficient way to aggregate, distill, and share this knowledge, which we can then share through an open source wiki to support and grow this community of knowledge. More importantly, we need people who truly believe that our community of spaces will succeed by collaborating and building together.


So… what happened?

“Hub in a Box“ was an intense, 3.5 day workshop in Cairo where hubs from AfriLabsiceHubs Global and Impact Hub (including Islington, Caracas, Kigali and Accra) came together to identify challenges and creating solutions for revenue sustainability. The hubs were split into three tracks – community & space, products & services and incubation & acceleration. Impact Hub Islington participated in the products & services track with hubs from Zambia, Nairobi, San Francisco and Egypt.

Team building over the “marshmallow challenge”. Key insights in team dynamics, taking an entrepreneurial attitude to design (prototype, prototype, prototype!), and of course… eating marshmallows.


Tracks hard at work discussing the challenges and solutions to financial sustainability.


But of course, always time for some fun and games in the breaks between sessions.

Our insights…

In the products & services track, we identified the three key challenges as:

  • Business Pipeline: ROI, educating the client, consistent pipeline and repetition
  • Balance: Balance between product & community needs
  • Delivery: Scaling services and team & talent

Hear from Debbie So as she describes a way to balance services and community needs and delivery larger scale services with limited team resources through collaboration and co-bidding:

Find out more!

Curious about Hub in a Box? Check out & contribute to the Open Wiki here: