News / Economy

Start-ups Find Collaborative Work Space in Johannesburg

The OPEN collaborative work space in the Maboneng neighborhood of Johannesburg, South Africa, July 24, 2013.(Peter Cox for VOA)    The OPEN collaborative work space in the Maboneng neighborhood of Johannesburg, South Africa, July 24, 2013.(Peter Cox for VOA)
x
The OPEN collaborative work space in the Maboneng neighborhood of Johannesburg, South Africa, July 24, 2013.(Peter Cox for VOA)
The OPEN collaborative work space in the Maboneng neighborhood of Johannesburg, South Africa, July 24, 2013.(Peter Cox for VOA)
In Johannesburg, South Africa, there are a small but growing number of shared office spaces in which sole proprietors and small businesses rent a desk and other services.  For small business owners and start-up companies, this route not only provides cheaper overhead for workspace, but it also helps entrepreneurs network. 
 
The OPEN Collaborative Workspace is on the fourth floor of a building in an artsy, up and coming area just south of downtown Johannesburg, in a neighborhood called Maboneng.
 
OPEN rents out desk space to small companies, entrepreneurs or satellite offices for major companies, Johannesburg, South Africa, July 24, 2013.(Peter Cox for VOA)OPEN rents out desk space to small companies, entrepreneurs or satellite offices for major companies, Johannesburg, South Africa, July 24, 2013.(Peter Cox for VOA)
x
OPEN rents out desk space to small companies, entrepreneurs or satellite offices for major companies, Johannesburg, South Africa, July 24, 2013.(Peter Cox for VOA)
OPEN rents out desk space to small companies, entrepreneurs or satellite offices for major companies, Johannesburg, South Africa, July 24, 2013.(Peter Cox for VOA)
Inside, it is a large open space, with meeting rooms and work rooms off to the side.  There are dozens of tables and chairs set up as desks, couches for meetings, floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the city outside, a full coffee bar with an on-site barista, and some recreational activities to take a break.

"We are standing on a custom built nine-hole putting green.  The thought behind it was everyone thinks business is done on a golf course.  We could not build a golf course in Maboneng, unfortunately, so we built the putting green.  ...  It is a versatile space, and it also gives a little break away for members and people visiting the space to come and putt along the green, which is quite awesome," said Westleigh Wilkinson. 
 
Wilkinson manages the site and also runs his event planning business from OPEN.
 
"OPEN's philosophy is very much based on collaboration and innovation through shared knowledge ...  We have got a lot of great stories where businesses have grown into the main change [building] and Maboneng as a whole," he added. 
 
There are about 30 members of OPEN, mostly small start-up companies in the technology field, although there are also satellite offices for people who run logistics for manufacturing companies and one member who runs an online casino.
 
One of the co-founders of OPEN, Paul Keursten, says it spawned from three ideas.  First, he says, the founders wanted to cater to people who are self-employed or work part time.  
 
"The other line of thinking is that so many people go to their workplace not feeling that it’s a great place to be. …Most offices are dull, uninspiring ...  Why do not you make it a place that you want to go to? ...  Another line of thinking, is that we need innovation to happen.  Innovation happens in a place where you meet people, where you think of ideas, it happens around the coffee, it happens on accidental meetings …  We wanted to create a place where that can happen," he said. 
 
There are a growing number of spaces like OPEN in Johannesburg.  But there are also coffee shops and restaurants attempting to fill that void for those working the virtual world.
 
The IT Corner in the Johannesburg suburb of Melville is a coffee shop that doubles as an office for many in the neighborhood. 
 
Abdul Kader Bouredji, the co-owner, opened the shop in 2010. 
 
"That's my idea to provide, printer, fax facilities, copies, scanning, offices, for example some ladies here have an office, but don't want to sit between four doors, so they'd rather come here.  They see new faces but they do their work," he said. 
 
Local Ward Councillor Amanda Forsythe sat at an outdoor table Tuesday afternoon with another councilor.  Forsythe said she uses the space frequently for work.
 
"This for me is an ideal working space, because not only do I get to see various people all in one go often, but I also get to know what's going on in the neighborhood….Before I was a councilor I had my own company and working as an entrepreneur that can also be can be incredibly lonely," she said. 
 
Such spaces also provide networking opportunities.
 
Luthando Mfabe works for a company called Digital Voodoo, which does digital marketing.  The company is headquartered in the OPEN space - where he says he’s come across many new opportunities.
 
"You do get a lot of exposure.  If someone wants a web designer, somebody knows us and they refer us to that person.  We do get a lot of business like from just collaborating or just sharing the space," he said. 
 
He's collaborated with another OPEN member on advertising campaigns which they are currently pitching to several international clients.  
 
Mfabe says he's enjoyed working in the space, though sometimes it can be tough not having a door to close when he's crashing on a project. 
 
"That's the only thing, but it’s a negative sometimes, sometimes it’s a positive," he said. 
 
Overall, he says, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8050
JPY
USD
117.90
GBP
USD
0.6376
CAD
USD
1.1259
INR
USD
61.655

Rates may not be current.