Co-working spaces

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Co-working spaces are spaces where entrepreneurs, companies and businesses share a workspace. Co-working spaces can have different forms and its users different profiles. Also the organizational structures of co-working spaces can differ. Some are organized as collectives, while others are organized as businesses in itself. In co-working spaces the users share different facilities and services. As such this approach relates a lot to the sharing cluster.

Impact Hub for example is a network of social entrepreneurs “combining elements of co-working spaces, innovation labs and business incubators”. The entrepreneurs that they house differ from one-person enterprises to bigger enterprises. The Impact Hub is a network of 16.000 social entrepreneurs around the world, who all have very different visions, make very different products/services, with very different relations to issues of inequality, ecology and justice. The Impact Hub provides people with an alternative structure to start their own social enterprise and be independent, rather than e.g. working within a big commercial company.

Although Impact Hub focuses on social entrepreneurship, building an ecosystem for entrepreneurs who want to make positive impact, there are also disempowering aspects to this example. In some Impact Hub co-working spaces the diversity of socio-economic background of Impact Hub members is limited and it co-working spaces seem to be mainly used by a certain type of highly educated and/or highly skilled people. “This is related to the business models of most Impact Hubs which rely partly on membership fees, as well as to the skills required for operating as an independent social entrepreneur. Although the Impact Hub network and the enterprises of its members include programmes and initiatives that explicitly aim to increase opportunities for disadvantaged groups, the extent to which such groups are included ‘inside’ the existing Impact Hub spaces is limited. A critical question thus remains for whom vibrant communities of trust and collaboration are (not) available and to what extent such accessibility could be (further) increased.”[1]