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SMEs: Find your coworking space or put your business idea at risk

Coworking means working or developing your business in the company of other like-minded individuals who together create a hub.

Here you are, an SME, startup or entrepreneur driven by a passion to prove to the world that you have a powerful business idea that is a sure game changer and money maker.

But until you prove that to yourself, your chances at success are slim.

You need help and coworking is today the way forward.

Call it hub, accelerator, or incubator, but unless you have support, connect and share your ideas around, the road ahead is steep and hard.

What is coworking and why does it work?

Related: Shunned by banks, and abandoned by staff, are SMEs folding?

Be in good company

Forbes said as office spaces turn more expensive and as automation slashes jobs, coworking spaces across the globe are growing faster than ever.

Australia-based Servecorp revealed that it would be investing about $16 million across 50 locations to develop coworking spaces, including in Dubai, Riyadh and Bahrain by June 2018 where supply of candidates remains short.

According to a report by Global Coworking Unconference Conference, coworking spaces across the globe are expected to grow to 17,725 serving about 2.3 million people by 2018 and to 30,433 by 2022 benefiting 5.1 million people.

“A 2017 Global Co-Working Survey by Deskmag, a coworking magazine, showed that 78% of new members were attracted by ‘community building’ and 62% were attracted by ‘events for potential members’,” reported Forbes.

“In the Middle East, existing coworking spaces focused mostly on startups that could thrive in creative environments but now they have begun to go mainstream.”

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Today Ajman Free Zone offers smart offices while Dubai International Financial Center’s coworking space ‘DIFC Work Hub’ is waving off incorporation and registration fees for prospective companies.

 Taine Moufarrige, Executive Director at Servcorp, commented: We give an edge to entrepreneurs by connecting them with a global network of over 35,000 members, as well as our virtual office offering.”

Dr. Eyad Reda, Chairman of Servcorp Saudi Arabia said: “The flexible workspace market is projected to reach $44 billion in value by 2021, and an increasing number of newer businesses and well-established corporates increasingly prefer to use serviced workspaces in Saudi Arabia.”

Watch: Kuwait rushing to beat Saudi IPO- What is it selling and why?

 Regional examples

CH9 is one of the leading business accelerators in Bahrain.

Created by Mohammed Al Tawash,  CH9 aims to speed up the development of the SME sector in the Kingdom.

CH9 hosted the Seedstars Summit in November 2016 and the Seedstars GCC in September 2017,  as part of regional startup pitch events.

According to Tawash, as a business incubator and accelerator, CH9 offers 24/7 access to workspaces with a variety of benefits, including fiber-optic Wi-Fi, CH9 printing facilities, and access to conference rooms.

In an interview with The National daily, When Bernard Lee first planned his new co-working office space in Abu Dhabi, he says he naively thought the market would operate like New York, where a coworking space was a mandatory part of startups’ life cycle.

He was wrong.

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“As the single office space offering in GlassQube Coworking thrived, but the coworking area, which could fit about 60 people, sat almost completely empty,” it said quoting Lee.

“There is a cultural gap between the markets I am referring to and the Arab world, where communal space is still something that is new to the market.”

According to GCCstartup, TechHub has officially launched, making the first tech startup coworking space in Iraq a reality.

It offers meeting rooms, training halls, a canteen, shared communal areas, fibre optic internet access and printing facilities.

“Some companies operating out of the TechHub coworking space include several startups, MSELECT, Bite.Tech, and TechHub itself,” said GCCstartup.

TechHub provides a platform for exclusive workshops, events, pitch bootcamps, hackathons and startup bootcamps which provide knowledge and business acumen of tech industry experts.