AfroHustler visited the premises of WeShareHubs while they were still setting up the hub, to extract exclusive information from Horace.
BEWARE PictureMode Disorder, space setup still going on.
AH: What is WeShareHubs
Horace: WeShareHub is a cool and affordable venue for entrepreneurs and creatives to work, hold small to medium-sized gatherings, meetups, board meetings, workshops, small group celebrations, announcement parties, business retreats, and seminars.
AH: What inspired you to set up a business incubator?
Horace: I decided to create a business incubator because I found how expensive it was to acquire an office, furnish it and settle all the relevant bills for myself. I imagined how it would be for many others like me. For young entrepreneurs and startups, money is usually an entry barrier. Once I could raise capital to open my own office I asked myself, why don’t I risk it and make all these office resources shareable to other professionals like myself?
AH: What are some of these difficulties entrepreneurs face setting up an office?
Horace: ‘Mehn’, the greatest difficulty in renting an office is the rent cost. Landlords always require you advance an installment of one year rent.
The location is also a problem. The buildings along the main streets of Buea were not properly designed for office purpose. They were designed for student hostels. Very often you’ll have to break walls, change windows, repaint… all of that just adding to the cost you have to incur because the landlords adopt a ‘take it as is or leave it’ negotiation tactic.
Then the landlords require you to pay all the rent tax all by yourself. You can’t negotiate to split it with them.
So getting an office of sufficient surface area, appropriate configuration, located along the town’s busiest streets and in a usable state is extremely difficult and expensive. If we add rent tax, rent caution, office furniture, utility bills, expensive internet bills, that raises the barrier greatly.
Now let’s add, company registration costs and basic business license (patent)
We are talking about a whopping 4 million francs CFA minimum just to set up and start your business in a ‘proper and formal’ way. No wonder about 80% of the Cameroonian economy informal.
I figured out that value best transmitted is created through sharing resources. Look at Uber sharing rides and Airbnb sharing lodging. We want to do same with sharing offices. Hence the name WeShareHubs.
AH: Who are you targeting with WeShareHubs? Is it free, if not how much does it cost? What else do your clients get?
Horace: We are targeting entry entrepreneurs/professionals who may come solo or in teams. Instead of spending about XAF 4,000,000 (about USD 8,000), they can already start conducting their business officially at just XAF 25,000 (USD 49) a month.
With just about 49 dollars, you are entitled to a desk, spinning chairs, paper trolleys, shelves, conference room (even for private discussions), projector, optic fiber or 4G internet, oh! cappuccino, a virtual assistant, any physical address, a post office box number.
Lots of freebies and discounts on relevant services like your business registration, designing and building websites, business, and legal consulting, magazine subscriptions, free printer/scanner/fax.
By sharing a hub, start-up entrepreneurs will figure out how they can trade their services at discounts in a small ecosystem. So we’ll share more than just hubs, we’ll share ideas, values, and resources essential to entry-level entrepreneurs/businesses.
AH: Tell us about yourself, your background and why you are passionate about helping entrepreneurs.
Horace: I did sciences in high-school, law at university and graduated from law school.
I started playing video games before I learned how to speak. This has always kept me interested and versed with gadgets, computers, and tech. I have always grown with an open, curious and inquisitive mind and I’ve been very enthusiastic about trying learning and trying new things. I realized it is, even more, fun to channel this energy into problem solving. So I’m fervent about helping entrepreneurs because this will enable the right people to create more solutions for our communities. That’s why I co-founded WeShareHubs.
My co-founder is Fonkwe Edwin, a Ph.D. researcher currently studying at MIT and Harvard.
AH: What do you think about the Silicon Mountain Community and what space will WeSahreHubs fill in this upcoming entrepreneurial community?
Horace: The first thing I will say about the Silicon Mountain is this community initiative ought to have started much earlier.
We need more incubators and co-working spaces in Silicon Mountain, like twenty and above. Very soon www.WeShareHubs.com will fill one space in this estimated 20 co-working hubs the Silicon Mountain Community needs. We hope to grow by creating more hubs, filling one space at a time.
AH: Any words for the young entrepreneurs of Silicon Mountain?
Horace: I think things are getting better. We’re offering a greater, faster and easier path for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. I would like to urge entrepreneurs of Silicon Mountain to be more assiduous, diligent, persistent and resilient in their climb.*Mind the emphasis in tautology because I have bad news for silicon mountaineers – We have run out of excuses.
I’ll also like to say that we are looking for a Secretary/ Administrative Assistant and for a Community Manager. If’ you’re interested, you can apply here.