Hi Lola, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! What does coworking mean to you?
Coworking is a community of like-minded go-getters working independently in an open professional environment with shared services, facilities and costs. Coworking provides opportunities to work efficiently, to network, and to share knowledge and ideas. New businesses are born out of this community.
Where does a serviced office end, and where does a coworking space start?
A serviced office ends where a single company occupies an office space all by itself. Coworking starts where different companies occupy a common space either in an open plan space or in multiple private offices while sharing services and facilities such as restrooms, boardrooms, break rooms, and of course costs.
What does the coworking scene look like in Nigeria? What makes it special?
We have not yet scratched the surface with regards to coworking in Nigeria if we are to compare it with the movement in the West. However, there is likely to be a fast-growing shift from the traditional lease on the commercial market to coworking spaces, for many reasons — namely, recent recession in the country and the tough economic climate, which resulted in the reduction of profitability across most sectors and the continued need to cut costs and operate more efficiently. The recession has not dampened the entrepreneurial spirit, but it has forced many to look at cost-efficient ways to survive in a difficult time. That’s why coworking spaces are being explored by many organizations, particularly startups and small to medium-sized businesses. The recent decline in demand of commercial office space, which has forced down the rent for these spaces, continues to encourage current and potential coworking space providers to expand and might be a creative opportunity born from the recent recession. The need for small to medium-sized businesses to share costs and collaborate cannot be overstated.
Coworking started a few years back with just a few providers. Today we have over 250 coworking space providers in Lagos, the commercial center of the country, with new providers entering the market every day.
Coworking poses an opportunity for many global companies who see the huge potential in a country with an estimated population of nearly 200 million, 60% of whom are between the ages of 0 and 24. Coworking allows these companies to set up business quickly and test the market without the risk and high capital outlay associated with signing long-term leases.
The coworking environment in Nigeria for startups is currently dominated by tech companies, who seem to be gaining ground as both the public and private sectors are focusing on funding this industry. There have been a lot of success stories in the tech industry, such as Andela and flutterwave, both of which started in a coworking space.
What makes coworking special in Nigeria is the fact that it is new and that the potential for growth is enormous. A significant number of Nigeria’s young and growing populace are driven by an entrepreneurial mindset and are determined to take advantage of the huge and growing market in the country. Most tech businesses are owned by young entrepreneurs between the ages of 22 and 40.
What do you think the Nigerian coworking world will look like in three years?
While the market is still young and relatively unknown in Nigeria, coworking is likely to develop very quickly in the next few years across most of the commercial cities in the nation. Business owners now need flexible office space and will continue to move from traditional offices to coworking spaces due to the cost efficiency and flexible payment terms. As long as Nigeria continues its drive to make ease of doing business its priority, more international companies would not want to miss out on what is potentially the biggest African market with the highest return on investment. Therefore, the demand for coworking spaces will continue to rise.
What’s a great coworking project or initiative we should be aware of? Something that inspired you recently?
I’ve been inspired by the evolution of GilGal Office Suites’ work environment. In the next few years, we plan to build a grade-A business center addressing all space needs. It will include not only serviced offices but also coworking spaces, training and conference centers, and a car park facility.
Thank you Lola!
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