New Impact Academy Announced at HUB Ottawa’s Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Last Wednesday, November 21st, several months after it officially launched, HUB Ottawa – a professional member community that gives individuals the space, resources and peer support to co-work, kick-start, collaborate and grow – celebrated with a packed event at its trendy location in downtown Ottawa.

The morning ribbon-cutting ceremony included keynote presentations by Vinod Rajasekeran, HUB Ottawa Co-founder and Executive Director, and Tracey Clark, a member of the organization’s board and Managing Director of Bridgehead Coffee. Ottawa’s mayor, Jim Watson, was also in attendance, demonstrating his support and enthusiasm for the initiative. “When I look around, I see leadership past, present and future – all in the same room,” Mayor Watson expressed to a visibly diverse group of community leaders, professionals, media representatives, HUB members and students.

One of over 30 HUBs worldwide, HUB Ottawa was created to give space to socially conscious start-ups in the national capital region and to enable the exchange of ideas and sharing of expertise among participating entrepreneurs. Brief presentations by three of HUB Ottawa’s 148 members confirmed that already the community workspace is doing just that.

Standing at the front of the 3,200-square-foot space, Katrina Siks, co-founder of Hidden Harvest Ottawa, a mission-driven social enterprise that harvests the more than 20,000 fruit and nut trees across the Ottawa region that go unharvested each year, described the impact HUB Ottawa has made on her organization: “We’ve benefit a lot from these walls right here … [They have] seen Hidden Harvest go from an idea to an incorporated operational business,” said Siks.

Impact Academy: Tools and Support to Change the World

At last Wednesday morning’s ribbon cutting, Rajasekeran took the opportunity to publicly announce Impact Academy, an exciting new program being delivered in partnership by HUB Ottawa and the Collaborative for Innovative Social Enterprise Development (CISED)

A five-workshop series, the Academy is designed to support entrepreneurs, nonprofits exploring social enterprise and professionals from all sectors who are interested in learning practical tools for change. In short, it is for anyone who is looking to become more effective in their ability to make a difference.

In addition to the workshops – covering topics ranging from clarifying ideas to boosting productivity to managing finances – participants have the option to join a small peer circle that will meet between each session to discuss roadblocks, opportunities and successes, offer feedback and share resources. 

According to Rajasekaran, the motivation for Impact Academy is simple. While Ottawa has thousands of professionals and entrepreneurs who are innovating for a better world, there are few places in the city where individuals can go to increase their knowledge, improve their skills and build their capacity. “Workshops and skills training are often one-off events with no permanent place in the community. Ottawa needs an ongoing learning program where social innovators can absorb new information in creative ways from top-notch practitioners and work with like-minded peers.”

In the short-term, HUB Ottawa and CISED are looking to build knowledge among individuals and social entrepreneurs to achieve several notable goals through the program’s delivery:

  • Increasing the number of nonprofits that are either “social enterprise ready” or considering self-sufficiency models;
  • Improving the launch and sustainability rates of social enterprise start-ups; and
  • Supporting nonprofits in expanding their reach, streamlining their service delivery and measuring their impact.

Over time, they believe this type of structured learning will greatly contribute to increased talent retention in nonprofit organizations, an ongoing challenge in the sector. Ultimately, “the program is all about developing top-notch talent for the sector and facilitating the implementation of creative solutions that address our toughest programs in a sustainable way – both here in Ottawa and around the world,” stated Rajasekaran.

The Impact Academy kicks off on Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 at 8 a.m. To learn more about the series or to register for one of the limited spots, visit

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