Co-working spaces, also called shared workspaces are cropping up in cities and towns all over the world; from New York, London, Tokyo and now in Nairobi.

Toffee Tribe, is one such innovative start up that provides co-working spaces by partnering with restaurants in the city and turning empty seats into flexible offices for the remote working sector.

Toffee Tribe is the brainchild of Nginda Ngang’a and Karambu Mathai who saw an opportunity to provide affordable, pleasant working spaces to the growing number of remote workers and freelancers at select restaurants.

This concept has created a new passive stream of income not just for the restaurants but for these two co-founders as well.

“We are freelancers and we spend most of our days sitting in a café or restaurant working. The mellow background music, airy space, unique environment and seeing different faces is great for your creativity,” says Nginda.

The business began its operations at the beginning of last year, but the pandemic affected its ability to properly roll out due to the lockdown and other government restrictions that were imposed on restaurants.

“In October we started getting some traffic, and it was around that time that we decided to invite our members for a co-working and breakfast session at one of our locations – Chez Sonia. We had 15 professionals in attendance and it was a blast,” says Nginda.

The demand for shared workspaces in Nairobi continued to gain momentum in the second half of last year when companies introduced work from home arrangements for their employees.

“The pandemic affected our business but when restaurants re-opened we started seeing clients coming to us and since then we have about 200 members signed up on our platform,” says Karambu.

Access to the Toffee Tribe membership is very flexible, you can choose to take up a day pass, weekly or monthly pass.  And this come with perks like discounted food offers, unlimited coffee or tea and access to Wi-Fi.

A Day Pass costs KSh750, KSh3, 000 for a weekly one and KSh8, 000 for a month.

To get a pass you’ll need to create an account, and sign up or log in using your laptop. There, you will be able to preview real-time spaces and seats available in all locations: Karel T-Lounge at Village Market, Lava Latte on Statehouse road, Ate on Kyuna Crescent, Chekafe on Kauria Close and Chez Sonia on Peponi Road.

“We actually wanted to make our restaurant a co-working space, and so when Toffee Tribe approached us we were happy to partner with them. It’s a partnership that works well for both parties, and right now majority of our mid-morning crowd are people coming to work,” says Leah Parnter, Co-Founder and Manager Lava Latte.

Today’s workplace is anywhere and everywhere. With comfortable seating, great ambience, power outlets and food and drink options, restaurants are seizing the opportunity to become great co-working spaces.

Toffee Tribe also organises “work-cations” for their members. The idea is to mix vacations with work and give people a chance to work from a different destination. Last year in November they held their first one in Naivasha at Kilimandege Sanctuary.

“We went with a group of eight members for four nights and the feedback we received was fantastic. It’s something we want to be doing regularly,” says Karambu.

The newest entrant into the co-working space is The Nook Co-working Space. The concept of shared work spaces remains the same but it offers boardroom services for up to 10 people, provides HD-TV screens for Zoom meetings and presentations, dedicated lockers at work desks and other perks.

For a boardroom, The Nook charges KSh1, 500 per hour. Freelancers who need flexible seating are charged KSh1, 500. A dedicated work desk costs KSh20, 000 per month while a private office costs KSh30, 000 per month.

Book club enthusiasts can also book their locations for KSh8, 000 per day.

Although it’s a novice idea here in Kenya, Nginda Ngang’a and Karambu Mathai believe that there is room to grow their footprint across other major cities in the continent.