Rise of coworking space as coronavirus ravages formal jobs

A line of parked cars dot the Eastern bypass, their boots opened and once lavish upholstery holds an array of vegetables, from onions, tomatoes and plush green pepper.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics says that in just three months as many as 1.7 million Kenyans found themselves without a job as employment fell to 15.87 million between April and end of June compared to 17.59 million the previous quarter.

As companies fired workers and job opportunities fizzled out many Kenyans resorted to starting their own businesses from the trunks of their cars to online businesses.

Data from the Registrar of Companies shows that business names registered between April and November rose 58.5 per cent to 65,782 compared to 41,490 in a similar period last year — making it the fastest jump in decades.

The new businesses needed to set up on location to capture repeat customers, have centralized logistical points of reference and to tap into linkages with other complementary companies.

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Ultimately, young people feel the quality of the people who work and gather together in a diverse and vibrant member community, will drive their success as the magic that happens when motivated people connect and are supported to pursue their dreams.

But as these small business crop up, they face a challenge of setting up in a physical location especially with the attendant costs of rent businesses permits and increased hygiene safety conditions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The rise of co-working spaces is servicing the need for low cost shared spaces that are up to standards and offer an array of amenities.

For instance Kikao64 which opened a new co-working space, an ‘inspirational hub’, in the centre of Eldoret town says it is a modern gathering place where people can work, connect and thrive, in a space designed to provide a fully serviced, flexible and conducive environment to increase business opportunities and provide access and exposure needed for success, especially for young people in Eldoret facing barriers, while also supporting non-profit organisations, athletes and startups in need.

Stylishly and sustainably designed, the new space is equipped with state-of-the-art amenities, including 100 fully serviced and spacious workstations, 3 private offices and 2 meeting rooms equipped with whiteboards and TV screens.

Comfortable furnishings, an in-house café and set in a spacious garden, ensure that Kikao64 is a productive, friendly and efficient all-in-one place to get things done.

Inspired by the Swahili word ‘kikao’ (a place of coming together), Kikao64 was conceived as Kikao64 offers members either daily, weekly, or monthly passes through an online booking system.

Kikao64 coworking space in Eldoret town

“Kikao64 is supported by a dedicated on-site team of customer service professionals. In addition to being connected to one of the fastest and most reliable Wi-Fi and internet connections in Kenya, Kikao64  also offers auxiliary services such as printing and other key consulting services on company registration, legal, tax and audit matters and web design and social marketing,” the company said.

Co-working spaces like Kikao64 are a comprehensive response to the new high-tech community of entrepreneurs, start-ups, nonprofits, freelancers and creatives with a growing demand for flexible modern office spaces in their home town like Eldoret.

The new set up offers companies attractive spaces, high end architecture while getting a chance to give back to the society by being green and environment friendly, which is what young people care about.

For instance, Kikao64 has the desks built from reclaimed timber, the office spaces partitioned using recycled milk cartons, phone booths soundproofed using felt from old clothing and blanket lines, while the windows and door grills were made locally from wrought iron.

Kikao64’s desks made of reclaimed timber

Additionally, the space runs completely on solar power to light the rooms and charge laptops while rainwater is harvested, filtered and used for general cleaning and sanitation, and garden irrigation. Meanwhile, the staff vegetable garden is kept healthy and green with natural compost.

It offers members regular networking sessions, training workshops and special events ranging from guest speakers to art exhibitions to film screenings.

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