Ekaterina is a co-founder and director of Impact Hub Moscow. When she enrolled in the Swedish Institute Management Programme (SIMP) in 2015, the organisation had only been up and running for about one year and operated mainly on individual grants.
-I got exactly what I wanted from the programme. The majority of participants came from the corporate world, which enabled me to learn how people from the business side think about sustainability. It helped me understand the language they use, the needs they have, and their perspective.’
Before, she and her colleagues had been unsure on how to develop the organisation and doubted whether they would survive. But SIMP gave her a glance into the corporate world.
-Because I understood the mentality of corporations, and how sustainability can be a part of their business model, I then analysed the ways in which we at Impact Hub could get them to partner with our social entrepreneurs. Some partnerships were established, and we got new clients. Since I knew more about how corporations think, I was able to develop better offers for them.’
But most of all the programme affected their own organisations’ business model. They shifted from operating on grant funding to diversifying and focusing more on partners, most of them corporate.
-Another good thing with the programme was being exposed to other topics such as gender equality and inclusion. It has proven very useful when I speak at conferences and events to be able to talk also about these issues, not only environmental sustainability. It was good to hear other people’s perspectives and opinions.’
Ekaterina now uses the alumni network primarily to reach out to individuals. However, shortly after the programme she organised a couple of alumni gatherings where they discussed projects they could run together.
-Unfortunately, none of them materialised but we got to exchange perspectives which was useful. And it was also good for us to host gatherings around sustainability. I now do some sustainability training sessions with businesspeople where I incorporate some of the lessons learned from the SI programme.’
Next, Ekaterina is looking to expand Impact Hub Moscow and to launch some new initiatives related to impact investing.
-Before I attended the SI programme, we were mainly helping entrepreneurs with skills and basic resources through small grants. Next, we would like to develop an impact investment industry where more and more private investors invest in our entrepreneurs. This is how we want to increase the resources of social entrepreneurs.’
Ekaterina would recommend anyone interested in social leadership to apply to SIMP.
-Most leadership programmes I have seen only focus on management. SI’s programme was quite different. It was quite advanced, focused on sustainability, and brought together a diverse group. It broadened our perspectives. It’s a great programme.