Real estate company 3Invest recently opened Lagos CoWork – the first timeshare co-working space in Lagos, Nigeria. In an interview with How we made it in Africa, Ruth Obih-Obuah, the CEO and founder of 3Invest, explained the project in more detail and touched on the reasoning behind its creation.
What was the motivation behind this project?
The co-working revolution is transforming real estate. The workplace strategy and operations has been in 3Invest’s pipeline for over three years, however, we wanted to get it right. So I went to Harvard Business School to study a short course on real estate management. Just before I left for Harvard, the space was at least 50% ready.
Harvard assured me that co-working and flexible spaces are the future and are fast becoming critical components of wider corporate real estate.
After one of my classes, I went to my professor and told her that I have had this business plan. She gave me some directions and I came back and dismantled our existing space and started all over. So, it took us 12 months to put the space together in terms of redesigning it, strategising and branding. This gave birth to our first Lagos CoWork.
Our corporate real estate strategy at 3Invest is to increase flexibility, productivity and satisfaction by providing flexible, modern workplace communities across Africa.
Lagos CoWork is ‘uberising’ the office market by providing an on-demand workspace for growing businesses and createing a sharing community where people can co-work and invest in timeshare opportunities.
The opportunity lies in the need to decrease operational costs, reduce the rigidity of long-term leases, increase cash flow, and explore collaboration as a new work culture. Our timeshare investment opportunity offers huge savings and flexibility for the community of small and growing businesses using our space.
According to Broll there has been a slowdown in demand for office space in Nigeria. Do you think this will affect you, given the country’s economic slump?
Working with the research and data we have about the recent economic climate; I doubt it would. Following the trends and challenges facing the sector, the issue is the rigidity of long-term leases and high cost of management fees. Organisations no longer want to tie themselves down to long leases, the flexibility of co-working makes it a better alternative.
How does a timeshare co-working space differ from a normal co-working space?
Following our vision at 3Invest, we aim to always provide valuable investments. We would never have a model that does not provide an investment opportunity for its consumers. Our timeshare investment opportunity offers huge savings and flexibility for the community of small and growing businesses using our space by giving them an opportunity to lease their spaces when not in use.
How is the space at Lagos CoWork priced?
Our spaces are customised to suit our tenant’s business goals. Membership starts for ₦5,000 up to ₦40,000 (about US$16 to $127 at time of publishing) to about per month depending on your plan. We have three types of plans Flexi, Standi and Residi.
Who is your target market?
We are investing resources in educating organisations on the need to adopt this new generational workplace strategy. However, we target mostly growing businesses and start-ups who need a presence in any location we operate.
Has any businesses bought or rented space yet?
We are yet to formally launch the community, but we have a good number of corporate firms who use our space on demand.
What is this co-working space going to offer that others don’t?
Our focus at Lagos CoWork is not just to provide work spaces. We want to attract the right type of tenants by providing a modern work setting, exceptional hospitality, work-life balance, and great customer service.
Our spaces are unique and versatile, and range from private offices and dedicated desks, to meeting and training rooms with a built-in coffee shop.
Describe some of the challenges facing the real estate market in Nigeria
Just like every economy, the real estate market in Nigeria is going through its predicted economic downturn which is a 10-year cycle. Our major challenge is red-tape. With advocacy and better education things will change. But when? I don’t know. All that being said, the higher the risk the better the return.