10th April I resumed to Workstation on Victoria Island to commence a new social entrepreneurial startup project.
My reasons are common interests of many Nigerian entrepreneurs such as reliable energy, cost-effective office space, and collaboration. I was not disappointed because it satisfied my interest but much more than that is the idea that over two hundred startups from Fintech to Fashion founded by young people are working inside one facility. The sun of prosperity is rising in Africa with these numbers of shared office business models spring up in different cities of Africa.
I think this direction is necessary for startup entrepreneurs to leverage on this opportunity to kick off projects. It is also an opportunity for investment community to profit from new trends in real estate shared economy concept. Startups voted for this concept with their money basically because of shared overhead cost and networking.
In many African countries, self-centeredness does not seem to have a place any longer in the business space with rising young population venturing into start-up and many due to passion and unemployment. Africa is a continent with countries that are struggling to develop infrastructures that can satisfy the rising population. Obviously, young population in Africa has a better chance of survival with the concept of the shared economy which in itself not alien to the cultural value.
In Southwestern, Nigeria, for instance, it is not unusual to grow in a family flat with cousins and next door children abandoned by parents. It is also not strange to come home to your family from university vacation with your course mates who have become your friend on campus. Sharing economy is a way of life for many African communities. It advances a culture of kindness that prevails in everyday African lifestyle. It certainly has a future in the business communities too. Be confident to invest in that direction because it is a global risen trend and the African cultural support is available too.
In 2006 when I had my first start-up, renting an office in a place like Lagos Nigeria would not be a creative idea. The probability that we would struggle to renew rent was high. In less of a decade, that problem is solved and solution scaling up. In reality, availability of co-working spaces has made it possible for entrepreneurs to share responsibilities for electricity generation, internet service, facility management, and relevant support. At the moment in Lagos and other states of Nigeria, there are estimated numbers of 46 co-working spaces. In the Workstation brand alone it is estimated to have over a 200 entrepreneurs' active membership in the first year of the opening.
The problem of infrastructure deficit is now an opportunity on two sides. The first side is the opportunity to find a solution to massive housing deficit and especially for young people who want to rent their first office space or residential apartment. Nigeria's housing deficit was estimated at 17 million as at August 2012 by the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS). The recently estimated population figure is put at 195 million in 2018. I think this explains one of the reasons young people embrace shared economy model such as co-share office space and co-rent apartment.
Now we can share an office space coordinated by a single business firm that integrates all bills into one payment and shared by the community of users. Also, young people do not need to invest in fleets of cars for startup marketing responsibilities. Uber allows the private car owners to share cars for that purpose. I recently found an online clothes rental website located in Lagos. This allows individual in need of quality business meeting clothes to rent one for business and other official meetings.
The second side to the opportunity is the business investment opportunities that allow for the massive young population of Africans to afford office rent at average price of $83 per month and inclusive of internet, work table and chair, electricity, front desk officer, facility managers. The same concept could apply to all essential business need of African young population between the ages of 15 and 35 which is projected to be above 700 million people according to UN estimation.
The future of successful business will not be in isolative mindset but a collaborative one. That requires that the value for kindness be well appreciated by entrepreneurs and consumers. Either you are starting a business or thinking of investing in African business space think about the large population of young people working the economy.