How we started and grew.
Impact Circles started out as "Social Entrepreneurs Meetup," a monthly meetup place for social entrepreneurs and those interested in social impact. It was formed because Jessie Huang, the original convener, was frustrated by the disconnect among social innovators, grassroots non-profits, funders, and policymakers in her community-building work. The idea was to create a series of events to bring together changemakers across the sectors to exchange their perspectives on public issues, identify barriers, and explore synergies for co-creating positive changes.
Because many partners reached out to us for event support, mentorship collaborations, and more, Social Entrepreneurs Meetup was rebranded into Impact Circles to account for our expanding service areas. Taking inspiration from TEDx, Impact Circles adopts decentralized governance by empowering the community builders to organize their own local chapters with Impact Circles' community-building tools and network.
In January 2019, the first event was held with over 30 individuals on the IFC rooftop. They found that the crowd had a tremendous appetite for having a platform for dialogue about the complex challenges we are facing and for connecting with their fellow changemakers. Within two years, Social Entrepreneurs Meetup grew into a community of 2,000+ members with diverse backgrounds through monthly meetup events and discussions in the WhatsApp groups. The convening team also grew from one to three, joined by two other community builders Marek and Roy.
In 2020. A former member of Social Entrepreneurs Meetup Hong Kong - Jessie Yang - successfully replicated the meetup model and started a Taiwan chapter. Its strategic direction is to connect local social entrepreneurs with the international community.
In 2021, Jessie Huang and Amy Meadows co-launched Impact Circles' San Francisco network. They are exploring opportunities to scale its impact through producing mini-documentary series about social enterprises and worker-owned businesses.
From 2021 - 22, we started collaborating with Hong Kong's Bureau of Commerce and Economic Development, on startup needs assessment and funding schemes promotion. We also partnered with KPMG and EY on impact startup outreach and mentorship programs. Impact Circles is increasingly recognized as a bridge between grassroots social innovators and resources allocators.