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Coworking for Sustainable Employment

Photo: Manuel Gruber
  • Coworking for Sustainable Employment

    Aim

    To support youth, and young women in particular, in their quest for individual development and economic independence through creative start-ups.

    Where

    Middle East and North Africa

    Why

    High unemployment, reduced freedom of expression and lack of financing opportunities for small and medium enterprises prevent young people – particularly women and marginalized groups in remote areas – from developing their full potential. These conditions strongly contribute to societal discontent, radicalization and migration to Europe, both legal and illegal.

    How

    Started as Mideast Creatives in 2014, Coworking for Sustainable Employment (CSE) supports creative start-ups by entrepreneurs, innovators, environmental activists, artists and journalists between 15 and 35 years old. It focuses on: coworking spaces for the creative economy, which heavily relies on collaboration to thrive; business start-up training and job fairs for youth – especially for women entrepreneurs; alternative financial models that make young entrepreneurs investment-ready and link investors to local businesses through matchmaking services; and (social) media campaigns with videos portraying women creatives.

    Results so far

    CSE successfully supports over ten three coworking spaces in North Africa, amongst which: Cogite, Tunisia’s first coworking space; The District in Egypt; Sylabs in Algeria, and with mentoring from Cogite, Cirta, a cultural and coworking space in remote northwestern Tunisia. In 2016, Cogite was listed as the world’s third best coworking space by Forbes. The space hosts more than 100 coworkers daily and 90 events every year. Walid Hammami opened Cirta following a CSE training on business modelling, finance, marketing, leadership and community building. He now employs 11 young people, including young men reintegrating after prison.

    Period and budget

    2016-2018, €5.1 million

    Partners

    Swedish International Development cooperation Agency and Dutch Culture (2014-2016); Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (donor) under its LEAD funding (2016-2018).