It has been one year since The District opened its doors in Cairo and it has become home to a growing group of entrepreneurs. Coworking is a popular concept in other countries but is still relatively new to Egypt. The success of The District seems to indicate that there is definitely a market for this different approach to work environments.
“Many freelancers or start ups do not have their own office, so they work from spaces that are often less than ideal,” Eline Hennink, who is responsible for events at The District. “In a coworking space people come together and share a work environment, but they end up sharing a lot more.”
The District caters to a variety of clients. “We work with beginning entrepreneurs from many different fields, from IT and accounting to architecture, digital marketing and handicrafts.
Most of the co-workers are Egyptian, from both genders and across all age groups,” Hennink said. Since starting, more and more women have joined The District, Hennink went on to say.
Working in a communal office space offers the opportunity to share experiences. “The management team offers support and helps to make connections between the co-workers who could benefit from each other’s knowledge.
One such initiative is the Monday lunch where one of our members is introduced to everyone else. Anyone who can joins the lunch and as we share a meal one of our members shares what they are working on, their plans and their needs.”
Anyone interested to join The District can make an appointment, bring in their laptop, find a seat and can start working. How you use the facilities of The District depends on your needs according to Hennink. “We have core members who sign up for three days a week, monthly packages and members who come in irregularly for a few hours at the time.” The District sells cards of several hours, which works out to just under EGP 10 per hour, and if you want to use the facilities three days per week there is a monthly package available for EGP 750.
Internet and hot drinks are included in the price. At the moment The District has 15 core members who use the facilities several days a week and a group of 50 coworkers that come on an hourly basis. Currently there is a waiting list for new members.
“Besides the space to work from, we also offer meeting rooms for groups or where our members can conduct client meetings and we organise different events,” Hennink said. Members who are struggling with a particular problem can make an appointment at The District Lab, where in-house and outside experts spend a few hours with a new entrepreneur to offer advice and help find solutions to problems. Every second Friday of the month a community market is organised where small entrepreneurs can sell their products and test their ideas.
The District has several plans for the future, that include increasing the facilities and the creation of an on and offline platform. “We have many plans, for instance we would like to introduce paying for using our facilities with social currency in the future, to have the members use their expertise to the benefit of The District instead of paying money. And it would be wonderful if there would be coworking places in every neighbourhood and to create a platform for all of them to work together,” Hennink said.