“Business is booming.” How one franchise partner is leading the flexspace revolution in East Africa

“Business is booming.” How one franchise partner is leading the flexspace revolution in East Africa

A year and a half after they opened the first Regus centre in Djibouti, Salaam Properties says its local customer base is bigger than ever. 

When IWG franchise partner Salaam Properties opened its first centre in Djibouti’s capital in July 2020, no one could have predicted that the pandemic would still be here two years later. But while the centre in Djibouti City - Regus Salaam Tower - was at first slow to get off the ground, there are signs that business is, at last, returning to normal. 

Based on the fifth floor of the second tallest building in the city, the centre spans 1,100sqm with 62 offices and 144 workstations. Occupancy has almost reached 50%, Chagonda says, and as the region’s hybrid workforce continues to expand they are seeing an ever-increasing number of enquiries.

“We opened the centre in the middle of the pandemic and, while Djibouti’s borders were open, the world at large wasn’t,” he explains. “Over the last year, we’ve worked very closely with IWG, which appointed a dedicated team to support us in increasing brand awareness, bringing in new customers and driving up occupancy. We’re very pleased with how the centre is filling up.”

The co-founder of real estate investment company Salaam Properties says that its local customer base is growing steadily. He has also noticed a big influx in the Djibouti diaspora, many of whom had been living in Europe, now returning to their home country to invest in the growing economy. Attracted by IWG’s global reputation, many are using the centre as a base from which to run their operations.

Regus Salaam Tower is the first of three centres to open in Djibouti under a master franchise agreement that gives Salaam Properties exclusive rights to the brand across four countries in the Horn of Africa. In neighbouring Ethiopia, Salaam Properties will develop four IWG centres over five years. Having initially been pushed back a few months due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, the first Ethiopian centre is scheduled to open in the Rang Building in the capital of Addis Ababa during the second quarter of this year.

Chagonda says interest is booming, with pre-opening occupancy already at 60%, boosted by the rise in popularity of hybrid working, with many businesses in the region seeking flexible workspaces for their employees.

Chagonda first heard of IWG while on business in Bahrain, where he used a Regus centre. He was impressed by the level of service and facilities it offered and so began to explore partnership opportunities. Ultimately, his decision was motivated by his desire to diversify his portfolio – which up until then had mainly encompassed traditional commercial real estate such as hotels. 

Since he became a franchise partner in 2017, his experience has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“Our success is IWG’s success,” Chagonda says. “Working with its team on developing the franchise is not like a traditional corporate relationship. It feels very inclusive and like being part of a family. You benefit from the wealth of experience IWG has built up over its 30-year history, and they are also more than happy to connect you with other franchise partners who are able to mentor you on how to overcome any challenges.”

He adds that IWG has been incredibly helpful when it comes to navigating the flexspace sector. The expertise that IWG offers partners throughout the franchising process is invaluable. From the procurement stage to design and the eventual centre opening, IWG has provided incredible support. 

“When we were faced with the delay to the opening of the Addis Ababa centre, IWG took a very practical approach,” Chagonda says. “They sat me down and said, ‘These are the current challenges and this is how we can assist'. That transparency from their side is something that is crucial and very much appreciated. My advice therefore to any prospective franchise partner is to come on board!”

Are you ready to meet the demand for flexible office space in 2022? Find out more about IWG’s franchising partnerships today.