Coworking in the Mediterranean: driving force behind region’s creative economy

October 3, 2015

Where: Cogite Coworking Space, Tunis, Tunisia
When: October 8 to 11, 2015
Hosted by: Hivos Mideast Creatives

Across the Mediterranean region, a diverse collection of young men and women are seizing the opportunity to spread a new movement of creative spaces.
Initially born out of necessity, there are now over one hundred shared workspaces across the region, 88% of which were established after 2011 and 30% of which were founded in the last year. More than just a place to work, these spaces serve as an anchor for communities of young, motivated individuals who are transforming the ways in which people work, creating new types of jobs, and reinvigorating the cultural life of their cities.
To further catalyze this movement, Hivos Mideast Creatives will gather the founders and managers of these spaces from countries around the Mediterranean for its first regional Coworking Summit in Tunis, Tunisia.
Some entities, like the Cogite Coworking Space, grew out of a revolutionary context, where a new sense of freedom and civic responsibility led to Cogite’s launch in 2013 as the first coworking space in Tunisia. Others, like Baghdad’s Fikra Space, were born out of a country grappling with war.

While most spaces originally sprung up in capital cities, 40% of coworking spaces in 2015 were founded in smaller population centers. Moreover, in the male-dominated environment of start-ups and entrepreneurship, there is significant female participation in coworking spaces, with women founders representing 30% of applicants to the Mideast Creatives Coworking Call to boost the growth of coworking, art, and innovation spaces in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.

 And this is just the beginning. As David Munir Nabti, CEO of AltCity in Beirut, explains, “the tech and creative economies in both Lebanon and the MENA region are growing rapidly, fueled in part by a stronger network of coworking spaces, accelerators, and investors.” Coworking is also changing the approach to entrepreneurship and creative endeavors in the region. In the words of Mazen Helmy, founder of Cairo’s The District, “coworking for us is a lifestyle, not just a product…the world needs more doers, and coworking spaces–such as District–are the places to be.”

You can follow the Coworking Summit on @ME_Creatives and the hashtag #CS15.  The Coworking Summit Launch Event is on October 8 at 7:00pm and the summit will continue through 11 October.