Running a Coworking Business: Our Interview with Paballo Mokoqo

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The last time I wrote about awesome co-working spaces and hubs to explore in Lesotho, ‘the co-working space’ was not born. But ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to wake up to 2021 and embrace the future of work.

We recently spoke with Paballo Mokoqo, an entrepreneur seeking to play a part in creating solutions for some of the longstanding developmental challenges of Lesotho.

She tells us about starting a co-working space, how she is building a community and the role co-working plays in building the startup ecosystem.

How did you get introduced to CoWorking?

I was first introduced to the concept of co-working through a local business incubation program I was a part of about 5 years ago. My experience there was enriched by a community of entrepreneurs who were as hungry and driven as I was.

Although we were all working on different business ventures in diverse industries, the business fundamentals are the same, so we’d share ideas on how we can build our respective ventures. I didn’t realize then the extent to which that community did for my venture, until now.

What inspired you to create a CoWorking space of your own?

It’s mostly the loneliness of the entrepreneurship journey, especially since our graduation from the incubation program. The idea had lingered in my mind for a while, but nothing really prompted me start until the Covid-19 pandemic happened and forced us to search for creative ways to keep our heads above water (financially).

But it honestly goes far beyond trying to survive – the pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions have negatively impacted most SMMEs, forcing some businesses to downsize or completely shut down. This therefore prompted us to create a solution that would enable entrepreneurs to pick up the pieces through shared resources.

Our solutions range from shared spaces to private spaces provided at a nominal fee, our flexible membership contracts also make room for the uncertainty we find ourselves in.

Paballo Mokoqo

How did you start the ‘co-working space’, and what is your mission?

As the Founders, we strongly believe in the catalytic role that entrepreneurship can play in solving pertinent societal issues. Lesotho continues to face a number of significant threats, including high unemployment rate, the gaps created by chronic poverty, entrenched income inequality, and—most troubling—one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world.

Our goal is to help create and support impactful enterprises that seek to address these challenges – the co-working space aims to provide access to resources required for start-up entrepreneurs.

What makes the ‘co-working space’ unique? has been the most fun?

What makes the space unique is the convenience, the flexibility and varied service offerings that accommodate our client’s needs and budget.

And the most challenging?

The greatest challenge has so far been the uncertainty of this period. Our members have to constantly go back to their drawing board to figure out if they will need the space or not. The disheartening part is seeing businesses close down.

Could you tell us how the ‘co-working space’ was affected by the pandemic, and what steps you took to be able to exit the crisis successfully?

It was launched during the pandemic so you could say in essence it played a rather positive role in fast tracking the launch.

How do you create a community?

By creating a platform and deliberately cultivating a culture that would attract a tribe of likeminded people who share the same values as us like creativity, innovation, grit, impact, courage, positive change, longevity etc. We are still in infancy stage but that is the intention, so we hope to see this manifest overtime.

What are your predictions for how the co-working space will change the local startup ecosystem?

It would take a lot of players with similar platforms to see the impact, and thankfully there are brilliant minds in this country who have created such spaces already like The Grindnation.

I personally believe that co-working spaces spur creativity and collaboration. With shared resources we all stand a better chance to grow our business ventures beyond the start-up phase. It is almost like a springboard for new ventures.

And if so, how do you intend to tempt individuals towards the direction of coworking space?

The greatest benefit is that our spaces are move-in ready – fully furnished with all the necessary amenities like FREE uncapped Wi-Fi, cleaning services, utility bills are covered, FREE credits that enable one to use our conference facility for meetings, presentations, trainings etc. So this alone gives one a peace of mind to focus on more important aspects of the business.

What advice would you give to Lesotho startups right now?

To seek to solve pertinent societal problems – I think Lesotho, and Africa as a whole present opportunity for entrepreneurs to create ventures that are impact led while of course being profitable.

My personal belief is that positive impact is what sustains any form of business, but you can’t make any meaningful change without financial resources so it’s a important that we all strive to strike that balance.

What’s on the cards for the ‘co-working space’ for 2021? What cool projects are you cooking up?

Cannot reveal yet, lest I jinx everything…lol

But there’s certainly more support we intend to give beyond providing the space.

How can people reach you?

The Co-working Space social media accounts are:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheCoworkingLes

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thecoworkingles/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Co-Working-Space-103355894982071

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUeKpEpovV4

Physical Address: Seapoint, Maseru Lesotho

Contacts: +266 62433674/58700199

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