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MY HUSTLE: Computer science graduate opens first co-working space in Nakuru

Wednesday November 6 2019

A basic office set-up. Co-working spaces

A basic office set-up. Co-working spaces provide these to ease the hassle of finding office space for upcoming entrepreneurs. PHOTO | COURTESY 

WANJIKU MAINA
By WANJIKU MAINA
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If you are an unemployed youth you must have been a recipient of this cliché; “Be your own boss. Embrace entrepreneurship.”

This phrase has become a droning soundtrack of joblessness and job dissatisfaction.

In addition, there is this other phrase; “A salary is the bribe they give you to forget your dreams.” Sigh.

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs begin ventures without factoring in the tangible costs of ‘Being your own boss’. Rent. Reluctant market. Capital. Operational bills. These hurdles hit them one after another without warning. Reality checks in and for some, this marks the end of the road. They happily trot back to the ‘monthly bribe to forget their dreams.’

George Wayne, 26, is passionate about entrepreneurship. Although he has gotten more than his fair share of jabs from his ventures, this hasn’t tapered his love for business.

“I have had four business ventures so far. In 2012, while still in campus, I started renting out bikes. Business was booming especially during weekends when students went for long rides to unwind.

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We encountered some challenges and put the venture on hold. Then I started selling jewellery. This did well and I opened a shop in Nairobi. It is still running smoothly.

My background is in Computer Science so I decided to make good use of my degree and started an IT consultancy firm. We are getting by and able to offer a wide range of services to our clients.”

Although he had two ventures that were doing well, George’s thirst for entrepreneurship remained unquenched.

TRAINING

In 2018, he attended the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Conference in Nigeria to meet like-minded people. It was here that he felt a deep yearning to support entrepreneurs.

“At the conference, I met Leah Mbogo, a potato farmer from Nakuru. We discussed lessons we had picked from the session and I shared with her my dream of supporting entrepreneurs back home.

It said to whom much is given, much is expected. The training in Nigeria was gold and I felt I couldn’t keep all those nuggets to myself.

Our chats brought us to the idea of starting a co-working space in Nakuru.

Leah bought into it and we decided to be partners. Later when we got back home, I engaged my friend Ian Muge who became a shareholder.

We named our business Nakuru Box.”

In January 2019, the trio began customising the co-working space.

The goal was to provide a conducive environment for entrepreneurs, freelancers and start ups to run their business without the hassle of setting up and managing an office.

To this end, they picked a convenient location along Oginga Odinga Avenue in Nakuru town.

“We rented office space at D&D building because we found it to be serene and upmarket, ideal for users to hold meetings with their clients.

Next we set up boardrooms for teleconferencing, installed Wi-Fi, set up a training room complete with projector and screens and hired a receptionist for the front office.”

According to George, it was important for the work-space to meet the standards of a modern office. They also added a restaurant wing to allow users to get all they needed under one roof.

“The restaurant was a nice touch geared towards promoting social interactions and networking among users. Entrepreneurs tend to have a lot in common and some of the best business ideas have been birthed over a cup of coffee or a sumptuous lunch!”

COSTS

So, how much does it cost to work from Nakuru Box?

George explains that there are different packages that are tailored to meet the needs of the users.

“Some people prefer a daily rate because the nature of their work doesn’t require them to work every day of the week. The daily rate is Sh600. We have others who prefer to pay on a monthly basis which is Sh8,000. We have a provision for exclusive desks at a monthly rate of Sh12,000 and lastly, some want a private office and the monthly rate is Sh15,000.

All packages include access to all the facilities at the space including tea and snacks at the restaurant.”

Besides providing a co-working space for users, George and the team conduct trainings on innovation for interested clients. Their business model is inspired by similar ventures such as Nailab in Nairobi.

“We are excited to be the first co-working space in Nakuru. This is a fast growing town teeming with budding entrepreneurs and creatives who just need a bit of support to realise their dream. We are happy to give that support because when they achieve their dreams, I achieve mine of helping entrepreneurs. Everybody wins.”

George adds he hopes to offer accelerator programs for start-ups in future and performs offer opportunities for funding to users. Given the enthusiastic reception of their idea, he plans to increase office space as their client base increases.

“We are off to a good start and have hired four employees to manage the space. The future is bright; I cannot wait to witness businesses mushrooming from our co-working space.”

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