I remember when I had just moved to Ghana for the first time, finding a remote workstation to do some work out of was a luxury. The cafés had either zero or shitty wifi, there was literally no co-working space and the cost of mobile 4G was insane. It was a frustrating period and I was out of options – my room had to do for the period. And that’s how ideas are gradually suppressed and potential problem-solving products killed on arrival.
coYou see, there seems to be something special about co-working spaces. Researchers over the years have studied how employees thrive and I was surprised to discover that, people who work out co-working spaces report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices. Clearly, co-working spaces are needed in today’s version of human resources.
Workshed Africa, a co-working space in the heart of Spintex is leading Ghana’s efforts in empowering startups with the ability to hit the ground running and have one less thing to worry about. We interviewed Richard Bempong, Workshed’s co-founder a few weeks back and it was truly inspiring hearing his story and the foundation that was involved in making Workshed a reality. More important is the success of startups that had at some point, worked out of Workshed and then gone on to do bigger and better things.
The Ghana of today is buzzing with creatives, eager to build, create and innovate. Many of them lack a space to work out of and hence lose inspiration, leaving their ideas and energy to gradually fizzle out. There’s an imperative need for more co-working spaces in Accra and we need them now more than ever.
There are some who still view coworking as a quirky niche instead of the future of work. That might be hard for those of us who love coworking to believe, but important for us to remember as we try to grow our communities. While it’s true that coworking isn’t for everyone, and certainly doesn’t work for every industry (we still need supermarkets and plumbers), coworking can serve as both a model and a hub for creating better communities at large and eventually, a more vibrant economy.
Co-working spaces provide an opportunity for those who have the talent (and balls) to create their own jobs in a crappy economy. Co-working spaces help them stay in Ghana, preserve their money, talent, and enthusiasm for use in growing the local economy. At the end of it all, Ghana is better off for it. Co-working spaces are very critical for the SMEs; they’ll finally have a safe place to grow and learn from more experienced members.
During the 2-hr conversation with Richard, one word he used repeatedly was “Community” and that was a major focus for the management at WorkShed – the need for them to grow a community of young creatives who need each other to thrive. They’re known to host weekly Workshed After Work Hours chats, with notable entrepreneurs who have waded through Ghana’s tumultuous business environment. This gives the startups in their space, all the needed tips, advice and juice they need to come to work the next day, Motivated!
Co-working spaces allow professionals to share their expertise and network with other successful freelancers. What makes coworking unique is the sharing that takes place on a personal level.
When a community is connected and open to sharing, people save money, learn new skills, and solve problems creatively. The community at large reaps all the rewards of a happy independent workforce.
Workshed, since it’s inception has been about value. Their prices are flexible, their services are top notch and the exposure is priceless. Personally, if there were a dozen WorkShed’s across Accra, Ghana’s economy would rise at an impeccable rate. There’d be less of a need for people to go abroad in search of greener pastures, but a narrative of young creatives putting their talents to use in making their country a better place.
Some might argue that the likes of Vida e Caffe, Cafe Kwae, and Second Cup are playing their own little part in helping entrepreneurs and creatives have a place to work out of. But you can’t turn Vida e Caffe to your office now, can you? You can’t have meetings and print documents etc, can you? They’re helping, but it’s not enough.
This current administration seems to be hedging their policies a lot on technology, but their lack of innovation when it comes to co-working spaces creates a deficit that needs to be filled. There’s been loads of talk about a “Silicon Accra” over the years, but none of that has come to fruition. If the government won’t aid the entrepreneurial spirit, it’s up to us as members of the community to make this need known and hopefully, just like Richard and Andrew did, disrupt the co-working space and get today’s creatives working!