On the 5th of February we had the 2nd meetup of Coworking Africa at the Design Bank, in the East City of Cape Town. Organised by the Coworking Europe crew, this was very much a spur of the moment event as a follow on from the very first gathering in 2015.
Like the first #CWAfrica conference, the content was rich and the contributors all evangelical about the growth of the coworking movement on African soil. What’s clear is that we [operators / owners] are all passionate about the people we’re creating these amazing spaces for; the freelancers, the entrepreneurs, the lone rangers out on a mission to start his/her own business and desperate to get out of “coffee shop working” and into a community of like minds. We understand how crucial enabling this environment is to the bigger picture, i.e. the growth of our economy and that any part we can play in helping the start-ups and small businesses can only be a great thing for the South African and greater African economy.
For example, we heard at the meet up that there’s so much good news around the growth of Fintech in Cape Town, be it the vast amount of talent Cape Town has to offer the Tech (global) scene, that could rival any San Francisco, London and Silicon Valley today. And the influx of investment that leads to the creation of more Hubs and Incubators that in turn feeds beautifully into coworking spaces. It’s all very good news!
Now for the part that’s not so good… YET! A clear message from the unconference part of the day was that more needs to be done to assist those who live outside of our cities, in townships and informal settlements to help become part of our coworking communities. It’s not enough to offer discounted or even free space to these entrepreneurs and freelancers. Paying for a desk is only one part of the problem, what about the nearly R2,000 per month to travel in and out of town on top, not to mention lunch!
We don’t have the answers to these complex social issues, not by a long shot, but participating in platforms like Coworking Africa brings us a little closer to finding those sustainable solutions. I look forward to the continued discussion around this subject and welcome you – yes you reading this – to put forward any ideas on how we can make this a reality.
A big thanks to Vanessa and Coworking Africa for putting the day together with the help of Steven from The Design Bank and all the lovely people I met on the day! To catch the presentations and an overview by the organisors, read up about it here, http://coworkingafrica.com/2016/02/15/a-look-back-at-the-second-coworking-africa-2016-meetup/
Keep an eye out for the next meetup & hope to see you there!