Kresten Buch was in need of an efficient office space that catered to startups and also offered a professional working environment. Yet, there didn’t seem to be any available workspace in his area that could meet his specific needs, so he decided to start his own, and that’s how Garage coworking was born.
Today, Garage is a growing network, with 3 established spaces in Cape Town, Nairobi and Lagos. Each space has it’s own identity, which in turn has created an environment ideal for creating unique partnerships both locally and internationally.
Garage’s first space, founded in partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs, opened in Cape Town This made the Cape Town location the first tech hub meets coworking space out of the network. Eventually Kresten took over, and the first location became the official platform for the 88MPH accelerator program from 2012 to 2014.
Located in Woodstock, the first Garage is a major part of a neighborhood that is now considered to be one of the more creative districts of Cape Town. An established cornerstone of the South African coworking community, the Cape Town Garage primarily supports tech, mobile and web based startups as well as entrepreneurs. Although they do not necessarily require tenants to be married to a particular profession, they do specialize in those working within the tech sector, and thus can offer relevant support.
Riding on their success in Cape Town, Garage expanded in 2012 and opened their second space in Nairobi. With 800sq meters of space, including meeting rooms, and hangout spaces, Nairobi Garage also offers all the professional amenities needed for growing businesses. As the space in Nairobi is larger than its sister spaces, there is also more room for bigger teams and SMEs. Their most recent space opened in Lagos in 2014, which is co-owned by L5Lab.
All three spaces meet the needs of their varied communities, yet they are united by the fact that they cater to the freelance and startup community, which is making major steps in the tech, mobile and web industries. While each area is unique, all spaces have shared a common set of obstacles.
Aside from the fact that professionals struggle to find affordable space to work, many SMEs in South Africa suffer from frequent power outages and a lack of a consistent and strong internet connection.
Garage Space manager, Dante Roets, stressed in his presentation at last year’s Coworking Africa conference that “coworking spaces have become the most viable homes for tech businesses across Africa”, due to their ability to overcome these obstacles. Through a partnership with WorkOnline, Garage Cape Town was able to stabilize their internet at a high bandwidth for a low cost.
In Lagos, the space found themselves having to pay extra attention to promotion, as coworking is relatively unknown in Nigeria. Yet, the hard work has paid off and there is now a growing demand and the space aims to become the largest coworking platform for entrepreneurs in Africa. After installing a generator to reduce the harmful effects of power cuts, coworking is minimizing the loss of work and simultaneously empowering workers.
It’s safe to say that professionals all throughout Africa face unstable internet connections and power outages, thus it is essential to start building an international network of spaces. The more spaces can collaborate, the easier it will be to overcome obstacles currently faced by the community. In addition to offering regional support, networks also have a better chance at securing international partnerships through supporting one another.
More information about coworking in Brazil, visit www.coworkingbrasil.org.
Looking at the Global Coworking Map or any other regularly updated Coworking directory that are now available online, it’s becoming harder to find a coworking space-free area outside low human density territories like Amazonia, Sahara or Siberia.
Coworking is covering up more and more regions and cities all around the globe. Although Europe and North America are still ahead of the move, Asia, Africa or, mostly, Latin America, are experiencing what could become soon a boom of coworking spaces in their respective urban centers.
No more New York, Berlin, London or Madrid as the only coworking friendly cities on the planet. Time has come to add Reykjavik, Yangon, Yerevan, Addis Ababa or even Peshawar to the list.
With four new coworking spaces opening up, on average, every day somewhere on the planet, no surprise to see Armenia, Cameroon, Guatemala, Pakistan and more widely embracing the coworking move forward.
Some of these initiatives are supported by foreign outsiders (investor or NGO’s). Others are home grown.
For most of them, a coworking space is the bedrock on which a local breed of digital globally connected entrepreneurs can and will germinate, paving the way for the companies and skilled jobs of tomorrow. Many operate as local embassies of the shared economy on the local level, as regional platform to host standardized inspiring format such as TEDx, Startup Weekend and connect, by doing so, to the rest of the world.
Almost all of them want to support the development of an ecosystem of entrepreneurs and freelancers, likewise in Europe or in North America.
Here is a list of ten of those new Coworking destinations :
Reykjavik Coworking, Reykjavik, Iceland
UtopianLab, Yerevan, Armenia
Ice Addis, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Hub Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Hubud, Bali, Indonesia
Basecamp, Peshawar, Pakistan
ActivSpaces, Douala, Cameroon
Project Hub Yangon, Yangon, Myanmar
Angkor Hub, Angkor, Cambodia