For close to a decade, Jose Antonio Morales has been a coworking enthusiast. Jose’s passion for coworking was sparked with his first experience of a coworking space in Vienna. This is where he instantly knew that building a coworking space and bringing entrepreneurs together was part of his journey. It stirred the wish in him to support small and new businesses, to have an impact on entrepreneurs through their surroundings, to inspire them with stories and to motivate them with a community.
Jose’s dream became a reality in 2015 when he was awarded a bid to open a coworking space in Murska Sobota, Slovenia as part of a private partnership. The space would operate rent free, with the exception of costs for electricity, heating, security etc.. Six men joined what became Aurora Coworking in year one. By year two, Jose was feeling the strain of rising costs and started considering that he might be forced to close this dream space.
When he sat down to have this difficult conversation with his members, Jose was surprised and happy that his coworkers responded with a massive push back at the news of closing. The community refused to let go of their small and intimate shared space. Things changed drastically for Jose in that moment; shared responsibility and ownership was the new order of the day between them.
Instead of a membership fee, they decided to share the operating costs equally among themselves. This would be trialed until December when a final decision would be made. When December rolled around, they had grown to have 12 members as a part of this cooperative.
Then Covid hit, and although the numbers have now gone back to the original six, these members worked hard to keep Aurora Coworking going. The group decided to divide responsibility for running the space among themselves and they set up a schedule of who would make use of the space when — to ensure their safety and their sanity!
This experience has inspired Jose to connect four more spaces in southeastern Europe operating on this cooperative model. He’s also busy registering the organization legally as a cooperative and estimates that in the next year he’ll have a total of 10 spaces joining.
Rural areas aren’t only inhabited by farmers; there are developers, designers and architects in this part of the country too. And, while government and private investment looks at the bottom line, no one is looking out for opportunities to develop and grow the rural parts of a country.
Jose’s aim for this project is clear; 1. Create a network of geographically distributed spaces which will translate into a bigger community, with greater visibility and leverage. 2. Have a blueprint of coworking models that can be explored and successfully implemented for the niche that is rural coworking.
There will be very little stopping Jose and the #RuralCoworkingProject in solving loneliness across the most remote parts of town in Europe!
Get in touch with Jose or follow #RuralCoworkingProject on the ECA social media for more.