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

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9017
    JPY
    USD
    104.72
    GBP
    USD
    0.7594
    CAD
    USD
    1.3160
    INR
    USD
    67.046

    Rates may not be current.