HKU Business School celebrates Impact Lab’s 10th Anniversary   Join forces with social ventures to offer valuable experiential learning opportunity

HKU Business School celebrates Impact Lab’s 10th Anniversary Join forces with social ventures to offer valuable experiential learning opportunity

HKU Business School is pleased to announce the 10th Anniversary of the establishment of the experiential learning course – Impact Lab. A celebration ceremony was held at HKU iCube yesterday and attracted a hundred guests, including partners, NGO representatives, students and alumni. 

In view of the robust growth of social entrepreneurship development in the past several decades, HKU Business School introduced this experiential learning course in 2013. Through this course, students have the opportunity to work directly with social ventures, and gain hands-on business experience via managing teams, solving real-life problems and fostering amicable relationships with social venture partners. 

To date, Impact Lab has equipped 1,200 students with transferable skills, with 97% of students claiming the course increased their employability from contributing 136,000 hours of work to 50+ social impact organizations. In addition to building essential leadership, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration skills, the students were also instrumental to the organizations’ work in advancing various UN SDGs throughout the past decade and the COVID19 pandemic, tackling the root causes of intractable social issues while serving the under-served. 

Professor David Bishop, Associate Professor of Teaching and Course Instructor of Impact Lab, said, ‘I view success for Impact Lab in terms of the students that we get to work with and the leaders that we’re able to develop. Seeing students grow and hearing from students who are now instituting different programs around sustainability or social entrepreneurship, or otherwise leading in their communities – those are the things that really matter the most to me. 

Professor Hongbin Cai, Dean of HKU Business School, said, ‘The Impact Lab course is a one-of-a-kind learning experience that allows students to strengthen their soft skills, exposes them to a diverse environment, and allows them to implement academic business concepts in a practical way. Amidst the fast-changing and challenging market landscape, it is important for this generation to be agile, innovative and resilient, so as to compete and excel in the job market. I am delighted to see that 1,200 Impact Lab students have contributed to the social impact sector, gaining practical skills while simultaneously benefiting the community. I am excited for the great impact this course will continue to make, and look forward to celebrate the success and achievement of the students and alumni in innovating a better tomorrow.’ 

 

Appendix 

About the Impact Lab Course: https://www.impact-lab.co/ 

Prof. David Bishop, Course Founder & Instructor: dbishop@hku.hk
Lucia Loposova, Course co-instructor: lucialo@hku.hk 

 

Key Projects & Organisations Impact Lab Students founded or work with 

Soap Cycling, https://soapcycling.org/
Soap Cycling was founded as the first company of Impact Lab by some of its first students. It was a pilot project to allow students practice real business and work skills while doing something good for the community. Since then, Soap Cycling has grown to a well-known charity in Hong Kong and one of the Impact Lab alumni who was at its starting point, Justen Li, even became its first Chairman. Impact Lab students have been working with Soap Cycling since its inception and particularly supported Soap Cycling’s fundraising efforts despite challenges due to social distancing rules during the COVID pandemic. Students helped organize several community outreach campaigns to distribute thousands of face masks and hygiene kits to street cleaners, refugees, and homeless individuals. Soap Cycling also piloted “Soap Walk for Good” to empower Hong Kong ethnic minorities while promoting intercultural understanding and social inclusion. 

Myanmar Youth Empowerment Opportunities (MYEO), https://mymyeo.com/
MYEO focuses on building digital and life skills by using technology while bringing development opportunities to youths in the most remote areas of Myanmar. Founder of MYEO, Htet Thiri Swe, is a former alumna of Impact Lab and MYEO was her project while she participated in the course. Htet and MYEO have been recognised for the work by renowned organisation, among others also Facebook where Htet was acknowledged as one of only 50 global social impact leaders. Impact Lab students have been actively working with MYEO to help the organisation grow and improve over the years and also thanks to their contributions, the organisation has trained over 20,000 young people in Myanmar to date. 

EmpowerU, https://www.empoweru.io/about
EmpowerU was founded in 2018 when a team of University of Hong Kong (HKU) educators and a community of determined domestic workers joined forces with a common goal to provide migrant workers with the tools necessary to take control of their economic future. Impact Lab students were helping the organisation since its very beginning, contributing to many new initiatives and empowering hundreds of domestic workers and youth. EmpowerU’s mission is to provide high-quality education to those on the margins, so they can use their voice to create a better future. By combining technology, community, and award-winning educators, EmpowerU have created a unique impact-based program that empowers marginalized youth and migrant workers and creates a generation of leaders who will ignite sustainable social impact. 

 

Testimonials from Student Mentors & Social Impact Organisations 

Lucia Loposova, Course Instructor & Student Mentor (2018-Present), The University of Hong Kong
Impact Lab is a unique course and I truly wish I could have taken when I was a university student myself. As a mentor who has worked with over 100 students directly, I have to say that I had a chance to meet some brilliant minds from across the world. It is inspiring to see young people seeking meaningful paths for their future careers and how they could use their skills to contribute to the world. At the same time, I witnessed transformations of students who challenged themselves and accomplished great things in just 3 months. Some students go from being told what to do, into adopting a proactive attitude and assuming responsibility for completing complex projects. I am hopeful that this model of education can expand into other universities and countries so that we can prepare the next generation of leaders for the challenges of our future in the best possible way. 

Solyoung (Vivian) Seo, Program Manager at Foundation for Shared Impact, 2016 Alumna (Fair Employment Agency) & Current Student Mentor (hosting organisation)
The Impact Lab Course was an eye-opening experience for me. It showed me that participating students actually have something to contribute to real business. After working in the corporate space for a couple of years after my graduation, I went back to social impact space and now I am working for one of the Impact Lab companies, where I get to mentor students myself.

Working with the them is always exciting, especially because if you trust them and provide them with some good guidance on the priorities and professional work ethics, you’ll always be surprised by how much they can achieve and deliver. Once the students know that this is a placement in which they can explore, fail sometimes, and really own responsibilities, they genuinely enjoy the entire learning process. Impact Lab is so much more than a course. 

Sidhant Gupta, Founder of Clearbot & Current Student Mentor, HKU Alumnus (hosting organisation)
One of our students designed current website which we could not afford normally. Not only he did that but also gave a lot of feedback on user needs which resulted in 5-6x (500-600%) improved engagement on the website – that reflects on the revenue as well which comes through the website. Another student helped us improve our internal operation system. The teams in our company need to talk to each other and they needed to streamline processes. They use a software to organise themselves but it is messy. Our student went in and cleaned the entire system. He built a mini-version for their small 30 persons team. His work impacted the company and increased productivity by 15-20%. The failures have gone down. We can see the team progress, access to documentation and it can be well controlled. This is helping our teams focus on the impact and be better. 

 

Testimonials from Students & Alumni 

Tomáš Kessl, Head of Partnerships & Business Development at EIDU and formerly of Boston Consulting Group, 2018 Alumnus (Foundation for Shared Impact)
Participating in the Impact Lab Course reinforced my belief in the value of social enterprise and helped me realize that I want to ensure that social impact is part of my career going forward. 

Soomi Hong, Associate Economic Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Alumna (Soap Cycling)
I loved working at Soap Cycling because I fully believed in its mission. I fully understood what we were doing and why we were doing it. I also had a strong belief that what we were doing would make a positive impact in the world. Having a strong attachment to the work that I was doing has set a very good standard for me going forward in my career. I always remembered that powerful feeling and connection I had to the work, and I always try to keep this active in whichever type of work that I do in different stages of my career. 

Lok Tung Cheryl Kong, Teacher and formerly Education Program Executive at CoCoon Foundation, 2020 Alumna (GREEN Hospitality)
I was able to expand my professional network and find a mentor in my supervisor through my internship with GREEN Hospitality. I often consulted her for career advice, and this has validated my passion to work in impact-driven projects after graduation. 

Kyra Fabienne Mei Long Krall, 2022 Alumna (EmpowerU)
I always had the preconceived notion that having a business is not really the most ethical thing. The Impact Lab Course really showed me the opposite and broadened my perspective on what I can potentially do in the future with social impact. 

Tyler Mutemasango, Student, 2023 Alumnus (Soap Cycling)
In a purely profit-driven corporate you feel like your work is only ever relevant to the person above you in the work chain, but with Impact Lab, you are included in the higher-level decision-making process in some way, and feel the fruits of your labour are more equally distributed across the board, rather than just with top management. I think more universities should have Impact Lab’s model of allowing students to intern as a part of a course. Students looking to get their first taste of serious job responsibilities and the accountability that comes with it, Impact Lab would be the ideal fit. 

Huzaifa Gani, Student, 2023 Alumnus (Clearbot)
With Impact Lab’s real-world approach, it’s easy to balance your personal and practical motivations because anything you develop an interest in during the course of your internship, you are encouraged to work on. 

Impact Lab is deliberately open-ended so you can tailor it to suit your goals, whether you’re a mature student with higher-level goals like opening a startup in mind, or even someone who is looking to create career goals from scratch. As an exchange student, it has been the perfect bridge to help me understand Hong Kong better without knowing too much of the language or culture prior to joining the course. 

Gavin Sayogo, Student, 2023 Alumnus (GREEN Hospitality)
During my time at GREEN Hospitality, I have had the opportunity to develop various skills including communication and entrepreneurship. Attending the Impact Lab Course’s seminars has helped me to realize that consistency and professionalism are key factors in being a successful entrepreneur. Reflecting on the seminar contents has motivated me to continue to develop my skills and pursue my passion for entrepreneurship. 

Kit Hei Joshua Yao, Student, 2023 Alumnus (Weava)
Being a part of Impact Lab has been a rewarding experience for me, giving me the chance to further my career and reach my objectives while also developing my abilities and gaining work experience. Through this experience, I’ve been able to hone both my technical and soft skills, including teamwork and communication as well as programming and data analysis. 

Mingyuan Leo Xu, Student, 2023 Alumnus (Weava)
The Impact Lab program has provided me with an invaluable opportunity to work in a start-up during my first year, which is something that I never thought would be possible. This experience has taught me so much about entrepreneurship, teamwork, and problem-solving, and has greatly improved my potential in the job market. I have also been able to develop a range of skills, such as cross-cultural communication, multi-task management and critical thinking, which will be beneficial in any future work and study. Overall, I am grateful for this experience and am more confident in pursuing similar endeavours in the future. 

Nimra Mushtaq, Student, 2023 Alumna (Clearbot)
I joined Impact Lab to increase my employability and improve my CV. As a geography major in my final year of university, I was keen to explore the working opportunities available to me. Impact Lab offered a unique opportunity to gain practical experience, while also allowing me to identify my strengths, interests, and potential career paths. During my time at Impact Lab, I had the chance to work on a project with Clearbot, where we focused on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) issues. This experience was particularly interesting to me, as it allowed me to delve into a new area that I had not previously considered as a career path. I have received more interview opportunities, and my CV has significantly improved. 

 

Hi-res photos are available here. 

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