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CoWork – coworking space in Gostivar

CoWork Gostivar is a project implemented by the association YEP Gostivar. Arlind Musliu, president of YEP and co-founder of CoWork, is a developer who has a firm with clients in the US and Europe. In their spare time, together with many young volunteers, they implement various projects for the benefit of society. CoWork is designed to help young entrepreneurs start their businesses, without having to think about the large start-up costs.

How did you come up with the idea to open a co-working space?

In 2019, Lokman Musliu was accepted by the American Embassy in the Tech Innovation and Entrepreneurship Professional Fellows Program project implemented by the WorldChicago association. At that time, he was working in a similar coworking space and came up with the idea that our society would also benefit from such a space. WorldChicago was the first to offer us a grant for this idea, then the municipality of Gostivar joined and we also financed it ourselves from our budget, that is, from the company’s budget. With this, we managed to have enough funds to open a space that will be adapted with all the services of a coworking space.

What does your co-working space offer?

Our space has private tables that can be booked individually and there are communal tables where you reserve a chair. The other option is cheaper, intended for students and for professions where there is no need for a large table with more space. We have a kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, electric kettle, etc. We also have a private room that can be reserved for private meetings.

What are the terms of use and who can use your coworking space?

The members can be from different professions, such as lawyers, accountants, marketing managers, architects, photographers, video editors, and consultants, as well as professions closely related to digital trends. If the terms are abided by, everyone is welcome. But, for example, someone who works in a call center cannot be a member because it disturbs other members who need quiet work.

What are the benefits of using this kind of space?

The space is very nicely arranged and has all the conditions for starting a business. For young entrepreneurs or freelancers, it is very convenient to have meetings with clients in a professional room. Customers first enter the main room which is a completely open space of about 150 m2 and then proceed to the meeting room. This gives young entrepreneurs the advantage of looking professional and ready for big business projects. And the client, on the other hand, does not expect a cheap price and poor quality.

Is there interest in N. Macedonia for using co-working spaces?

We think that every city should have similar spaces. The problem is that it is very difficult to make a profit from such spaces since the goal is to offer a professional space at a cheap price. During the pandemic, more than 50% of the large coworking spaces in the world went bankrupt because they could not survive. That is why we believe that these spaces should be opened in collaboration with institutions such as the youth and sports agency or the municipality. In our case, the municipality has helped us so far by covering part of our costs. But we still don’t have enough budget to pay for professional cleaning or to have an employee to manage the place. At the moment, I am covering these two positions, voluntarily, to contribute to my society.

In which direction do you want your coworking space to develop?

We expect to have a space that will help young entrepreneurs realize their ideas and after a few months or years of success, get out of our space and continue to accomplish successes in their personal offices. We also expect to have a budget with which we would help young people start a business in which we would have a part of the shares and with that profit, we would have a new budget to help others further.

What is your opinion about remote jobs?

During the pandemic, it was necessary to work from home. This has motivated many people to consider remote working as a long-term solution. I think we should have a balance. There are some professions that can be freely operated remotely/at home and for which there is no need for physical meetings. Also, there are professions for which it is impossible to work remotely because the employee must be physically present at the workplace. Then there are professions where you can do a combination of both options, some days remote/at home and some days physical presence.

What are the most interesting profiles of freelancers/companies that use your coworking space?

So far we have had developers, designers, architects, and event organizers. These professions had the greatest need for our space. We also had people who moved to a European country and took permission to work remotely for several months. During that time they used our space to work, and after working hours they returned to their families. Previously, this was not possible, because they did not have a private space with excellent conditions.

How do you keep freelancers interested and what events do you host at your place? Share with us some interesting examples/events that have taken place or will take place in your co-working space.

We have very comfortable conditions, which is why members really like working in our space. For example, the space has working hours from 9 to 5 for visitors and for those who want to use the space for a day or a week. But those who have a monthly membership fee have their own key and can use the space 24/7.

What pricing model do you use and what is your policy?

We have very cheap prices because the purpose of our space is to help young people develop their ideas or work as freelancers. But, we also have office expenses that we have to pay, so membership fees help cover those expenses. The municipality of Gostivar has also been of great help to us, covering part of these costs in the last 3 years, so we are able to continue with cheap prices for all those interested.

We currently have about 15 members out of a maximum of 22 available. We also have the ability to accommodate up to 30 members in the future if needed. In the first year, we had about 10 members, which means that we are slowly becoming visible to young people.

Do you collaborate with another space like yours, in the country and abroad?

Yes, we’ve had a few similar spaces from abroad that included us in their networks to have more locations for their members. In our country, we are part of the StartupMacedonia ecosystem. These collaborations are very important to us for expanding our network and increasing interest among young people in our region.

Andrijana Serafimovska

Andrijana Serafimovska is the Communications Assistant at Impact Foundation. An ambitious and self-driven individual, with a passion for volunteering to better the quality of life of disadvantaged groups. She is experienced in project management for NGOs and social media marketing.