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On Thursday, July 26, 2018, policymakers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, the media and co-working space operators gathered at the IMAX Filmhouse in Lekki, Lagos for the second edition of the annual co-working conference.

The one-day conference, which presented the right avenue for stakeholders to explore the endless possibilities of the sector, was organised by Kola Oyeneyin, creator of Co-working Conference Nigeria and founder of Venia Business Hub, one of Nigeria’s first co-working spaces.

In line with this year’s theme; ‘Coworking: The Catalyst for Innovation’, the conference is aimed at connecting the dots on how coworking, co-creation, collaboration and technology are spurring innovation, entrepreneurship, wealth and job creation while charting the course for a new economy and the future of work.

Aside Yemi Osibajo, the vice president, who inspired the participants with his speech, others speakers at the conference include; Omobola Johnson, partner at TLCom and former Minister of Communication Technology; Iyin Aboyeji of Flutterwave, Africa’s leading payment platform; Kola Aina, chairman, Ventures Park, Ola Brown of Greentree Investment Company, among others.

In his speech, the vice president said he was delighted to be among young Nigerians who have taken a risk to invest in providing co-working spaces to spur innovation, ideas and work that will disrupt our collective lives and experiences.

“The knowledge economy is bound to change everything, co-working is bound to change everything, how we learn and work. The way we taught in schools before now, was by individual competition in a classroom full of students. But the classrooms of the future will be classrooms where collaboration is the key, where people and young students will be working together, to achieves objectives and ideas. This is already playing out in the way that curricula are defined in various parts of the world today”, the Vice President said.

Also speaking at the conference on the rationale for being the official title sponsor of Co-working Conference Nigeria, Victor Etuokwu, executive director, Personal Banking Division, Access Bank PLC., said Access Bank is recognised as a leading bank in driving digital banking and fintech innovation in Africa.

“We seek to create new opportunities in emerging markets by providing a platform designed to inspire and challenge innovators and entrepreneurs, as such we have partnered with Coworking Conference Nigeria and leveraged on our global platform to further foster innovation, drive entrepreneurship as well as economic development,” he said.

In his opening remarks at the conference, Kola Oyeneyin, CEO, Venia Business Hub and Creator, Coworking Conference Nigeria, expressed his delight over the growth of the co-working industry in Nigeria from two spaces eight years ago to over 100 today across the country.

He noted that the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has seen a fundamental shift since the emergence of co-working and tech hubs, with many leading startups like Taxify, Flutterwave, Branch Int’l, and AutoGeni tracing the start of their journeys to co-working spaces.
“The essence of co-working is to amplify creativity, connectivity and collaboration. The major challenges for entrepreneurs here is power, internet and enabling environment to thrive. An average Nigerian entrepreneur does very well when he moves to London or New York because the environment is built for him to succeed. What co-working spaces have done is to create the enabling environment for innovative people to collaborate, create and grow their ideas”, Oyeneyin explained.

With an annual growth rate of 24.2 percent, co-working is an emerging phenomenon that is shaping the entrepreneurial ecosystem globally with new co-working spaces popping up in most major cities. It is predicted that by 2022, there will be over 30,432 co-working spaces with over 5.1 million co-working members.

In Africa alone, over 250 co-working spaces have sprung up just within a decade. Interestingly, 80 percent of these spaces were established in the last four years.

Since its inception in Nigeria a few years ago, the co-working movement has continued to gain momentum, with a surge in the number of co-working spaces across the country, especially in the city of Lagos.

 

OBINNA EMELIKE



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