Six inspiring months of Hackney Impact

6 months of hackney impact

We’re celebrating six months since the launch of Hackney Impact. In October last year, we joined forces with a number of local organisations, all united to foster growth and prosperity within Hackney’s vibrant business community. The 18-month long project offers a suite of support programmes tailored for anyone looking to start or currently running a venture in Hackney. When we say ‘venture’, we’re casting a wide net, including companies, cooperatives, charities, community interest companies, social enterprises or a project, initiative or activity. Our goal is inclusivity.

Working with Hackney Co-operative Developments, East End Trades Guild, Social Founders and Green Business Action, we’re a collaborative team of partners pooling resources to provide the broadest range of support possible.

To mark the 6 month milestone, we spoke with Paul – Hackney Impact’s programme manager at Allia and Henrietta Cyrille, Hackney Impact Project Co-Ordinator at the East End Trades Guild to hear about the project’s progress, and its impact on the community.

What have been the learnings so far?

This first 6 months has really been about identifying the problems for small and micro Hackney businesses; being clear about who are the hard to reach businesses and why; plus understanding the problems that the consortium faces in delivering business support.”

Henrietta Cyrille, Hackney Impact Project Co-Ordinator

Paul: “Over the first six months of the programme, we’ve supported 160+ ventures and run 372 activities. We’ve been busy!

In this time, our understanding of people’s needs has evolved and crystalised. Our Learning and Evaluation partner, Renaisi has worked with us so we can validate our analysis and this is helping us develop our plans over the next 6-12 months. 

“Three clear areas of need have emerged from the work with participants so far: access to funding; access to space; and opportunities to make connections with people. With this in mind, we’re planning a series of workshops and clinics to develop people’s capacity to access funding, developing partnerships that give people access to affordable workspaces, and putting together a regular programme of networking opportunities.”

What have been your favourite moments so far?

Paul: “It’s been a crazy six months – and the bits that stand out and make it worthwhile are all connected with the people of Hackney who put their faith in us. Building relationships with them, understanding what they’re going through and trying to help them grow and develop is incredibly rewarding. 

“Sharing and celebrating their success is a huge amount of fun but the interesting thing is that success is always relative! Celebrating someone’s first customer, first sale, first post on social media is amazing because it’s important to recognise that is their own first step in the right direction. 

“For example, we met a woman who had been running a business for 10+ years, but she needed to pivot to keep her business alive. That first B2B sale, the one that gave her the faith to commit to a new direction was incredibly significant and I was very lucky to be there when it was confirmed.”

Are there any particular ventures that have inspired you?

Paul: “It’s sad to say, but the world can be cruel, unfair and very, very hard for some people. But some can respond to this by trying to make a change to the world, and this happens in lots of different ways.

“There was a moment on the Grow Your Business programme that brought tears to my eyes. As part of a group discussion people started talking about the driving forces behind their ventures and a young woman shared part of her story which was incredibly moving – and this prompted the other members of the group to feel able to share their own stories as well. Hearing these genuine stories is a privilege that I’m pleased to be part of.

“People do extraordinary things in the face of adversity. Post-pandemic, post-Brexit, in the midst of a cost of living crisis, with conflict erupting across the world and after a decade of austerity, the people joining Hackney Impact to make a positive difference to the world inspire me and give me faith in humanity. It’s very humbling at times.

“So I wouldn’t say one venture in particular has inspired me, but the 100 or so ventures we’ve met that are all trying to do their bit for their communities, their families, and the world.”

What is the best thing about the programme?

Henrietta: “I’m so pleased that we are offering such a wide range of support. And that we are prepared to change the support in response to the needs of small businesses.”

Paul: “Other than the fact that it’s for free? I keep coming back to the range of ventures and people we’re supporting. Nobody is doing the same thing, every single venture is a reflection of someone’s identity, purpose, journey, story or dream. Some of them are waaaaay out there, incredibly ambitious, thrilling even, and some of them are… very unconventional!”

If you could give one piece of advice to new businesses, what would it be?

Paul: “It’s all about the people. Having good people around you makes everything better. Knowing there are people who are on your side, that you can turn to for advice or support, who will advocate for you and that you can depend on. There is no substitute for that.

“And that’s what’s at the heart of Hackney Impact. We’re here to listen to you, to do our best for you and for Hackney.”

Next time, we’re shining a light on the amazing partner organisations that we’re working with on the programme. If you want any more information about Hackney Impact, go to or email