Mozambican co-working organisation CoWork Lab has opened a fifth space in Maputo, as the concept of co-working and its benefits for young startups begins to establish itself in the country.
CoWork Lab opened its first co-working space in the Mozambican capital in late 2012, and has rapidly added to its capacity with new spaces opening in 2013, 2014 and 2017.
In May, the organisation opened its fifth co-working space, as co-working as a concept becomes better known.
“When we started in 2012, co-working was totally strange and unknown. You had to really explain the concept and there was a lot of scepticism about it. Since then many spaces have opened and people now know the concept of shared working spaces,” says Pedro Ferreira, director of CoWork Lab.
CoWork Lab now has capacity to house 50 startups in private areas, as well as individual hot-desking facilities for 40 entrepreneurs.
Private offices start from MZM20,000 (US$337), while hot-desking is available from MZM5,280 (US$89) per month.
Ferreira says co-working is particularly well suited to Mozambique, given the high costs of real estate and the associated operating costs – which startups and small businesses do not have the budget to cover.
In addition, CoWork Lab is busy trying to build a connected ecosystem in Maputo – and increase the opportunities and events available to entrepreneurs in the city.
“Co-working can have an important role in boosting the entrepreneurship and startups ecosystem ‘naturally’. By connecting mind and goals-alike people through physical spaces, people can share ideas and worries, inspire each other, and do business together,” Ferreira says.
“It also enables people to create their own specific activities and initiatives which can promote the entrepreneurial spirit and development. For instance, we brought Startup Grind by Google for Entrepreneurs and also Fuckup Nights to Maputo; and we are supporting Mozdevz, which is a group of young web developers, with office space. All of this means that entrepreneurs don’t stay in isolated islands but instead participate in the ecosystem and connect with each other more regularly, creating new opportunities and relationships.”
Ferreira has big plans to further grow co-working in Mozambique – with CoWork Lab looking to host more events, and bring in more external initiatives and opportunities for its members. The organisation is also considering expanding to new provinces of Mozambique.
“The startup ecosystem is still taking its first steps here and therefore there is not a big market yet. […] This represents an opportunity but also a threat because if you haven’t done your homework well, things can go south really quick,” Ferreira says.
“Our plans for now are: just keep growing.”