COWORKING, TECH AND THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY Pt. 2
b) repurposed space e.g. retail stores, Restaurants Collaboration with members,
c) city-level collaborations amongst coworking operators; and
d) incorporation of co-living accommodation.
Of the four points noted, city-level collaboration amongst coworking space operators’ stands out as having potential for the greatest impact.
While this is the case, there is however likely one more trend that will gain traction in the not-so-distant future, upon which collaborations will be predicated, and which will be of very great impact in driving the future of the coworking industry.
It is the idea of specialized coworking hubs. Currently blazing the trail in this regard is Civic Innovation Labs in Abuja, designed to foster innovation and social impact; as well as 360creative and Cre8 hubs in Lagos; 360creative hub carter strictly to the unique startup needs of fashion entrepreneurs, while Cre8 tends to the needs of players in fintech startup.
At the present, the idea of specialized hubs may seem farfetched, however, it is a concept that will gain prominence in the coming days as more players in the industry will embrace it either proactively or in reaction to market demand. However, it is definitely one factor that will shape the future, impact and relevance of Nigeria’s coworking space.
And this is what brings us to the point about collaboration as the biggest factor, which will shape the industry and eventually the nation and the continent.
The idea of specialized hubs will foster ‘intra’ collaborations amongst startups and entrepreneurs in a particular sector or niche. With startups in the same industry working out of the same hub, there is likely going to be increased exchange of ideas and although there is bound to be competition, there will also be a greater opportunity for collaborations as founders will identify how areas of strength complement that of another, and will be motivated to build companies that are bigger than the individual sum of the comprising parts.
This will not only happen for startups; it will also need to be the case for operators and stakeholders in the coworking industry. We will be seeing collaborative moves between coworking space providers where they actively seek out ideas and startups in other coworking spaces that can collaborate with those in their to achieve bigger and better outcomes.
So, in future, we are likely to experience a pivoting in the roles and functions of coworking hubs beyond office space and incubation providers to one of actively facilitating collaborations and defining outcomes; redefining the way and speed in which ideas are brought to life and businesses evolve in their hubs.
Africa is shaping up to be the toast of the world in terms of tech and innovation no doubt, and Nigeria is at the center of that. The big players globally are beginning to notice and validate the fact. However, if there is anything we need more than ever at this critical moment, it is speed. The speed of our innovative process and the quality of its outcomes will be a factor of our collaboration. GCL Hub, a coworking space in Ikeja, Lagos state, is one hub that is actively embracing and integrating a collaborative business model into its core; fostering interchange of ideas amongst founders in its hub, and currently seeking to foster inter hub collaborations amongst founder from other coworking hubs in Lagos state and beyond.
With the success of startups such as LifeBank, BudgIT, Flutterwave, Paystack and a host of others that are pulling in millions of dollars in investment into the Nigerian economy on a yearly basis, there is no doubt that Nigeria is not lacking in ideas or brilliant driven and energetic young minds, capable to secure the place of their nation in the unfolding tech driven future.
The gains and prospects inherent in this make it not just a nice-to-have but a must-have for our nation to fast track development and live up to its much tooted potentials. Nigeria and indeed Africa played catch up on the previous industrial revolutions, we could however cash