Meet the Team: Dian Grobler, Operations Manager at Workshop17

Dian Grobler, Operations Manager at Workshop17

The success driven, hard-working, Dian Grobler is the HR and Operations Manager at Workshop17.

He has been gaining work experience from day one after his studies, interning and working for a Human Resource Consultancy company, called LabourNet for seven years. He gained tremendous knowledge regarding the business field in this job. Three years into his position, he was promoted as the regional manager for their West Rand Business which was a huge milestone in Dian’s career!

In 2018, he then joined the Workshop17 team and has been thriving ever since. He is passionate about facilitating, public speaking and training others, making him the ideal fit in our team. He is an inspiration, who aims always to improve and help people reach their full capacity. Living a balanced lifestyle is also the philosophy which he lives by. He is work focussed, but also sees the great importance of being healthy, spending time with those he loves and pursuing his hobbies. Some of his hobbies include playing poker and listening to funky tunes as he was a musician back in high school.

Golf is yet another interest of Dian’s. He loves playing this sport, with the beautiful Cape Town scenery in the background. Table Mountain is one of his favourites destinations alongside the famous Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room on Bree Street. He also enjoys sipping on a gin and eating exceptional seafood at La Mouette in Sea Point.

Dian is a well-rounded individual who is currently halfway with his MBA, studying through the University of Cape Town. He is thoroughly enjoying his additional studies and the networking opportunities which come alongside it.

Overall, he is a great representative of our business, with his brilliant skills of connecting people and striving towards greatness.

- post was written by Jessica le Roux during her internship with us at Workshop17

Employing Foreign Nationals in South Africa: What You Need to Know

Workshop17 Blog Image


Today it is increasingly popular for businesses to employ foreign nationals in South Africa. Whether for specific skill sets or other reasons, these can prove to be an invaluable asset. A key question for employers then, is what compliance is required by law to employ foreign nationals. How can businesses limit potential liability?  How can the risk of unknowingly employing illegal foreign nationals be mitigated? This article will discuss what you need to know before employing foreign nationals.

Applicable legislation

As a point of departure, several statutes regulate the employment of foreign nationals in South Africa. The Immigration Act,13 of 2002 (hereafter referred to as “The Immigration Act”), as amended, states in Section 38 thereof, that it is unlawful for any employer to employ any foreigner in South Africa without the requisite status. Such status must authorize him to be in the Republic and must be consistent with the terms of his employment. Furthermore, the Employment Services Act, 4 of 2014, as amended defines foreign nationals as follows:

‘‘foreign national’’ means an individual who is not a South African citizen or does not have a permanent residence permit issued in terms of the Immigration Act; “

Section 8(1) further states that:

An employer may not employ a foreign national within the territory of the Republic of South Africa prior to such foreign national producing an applicable and valid work permit, issued in terms of the Immigration Act.“

Types of work permits

Work permits are sometimes known as work Visas and take various forms. They are defined in Section 19 of the Immigration Act as follows:

  1. General work Visa

This is the most common type of work Visa and perhaps the most difficult to obtain, as it will only be granted if the employer has exhausted efforts to employ South African citizens first.

  1. Critical skills Visa

This type of Visa is granted where specific specialised and often scarce skill sets are required, and where such skills are scarce. The aspirant job seeker must register with the specialized South African professional group and their qualifications will be evaluated based on South African standards and must present some form of proof such a as a degree or diploma showing that they have such skills as may be required.

  1. Intra Company transfer work Visa

This type of Visa is for where a foreign parent company has business interests in South Africa, and the employer is transferred to the South African employer. This type of Visa is limited in that it is not transferrable and that the employee must have worked for the parent company for at least six months.

  1. Corporate Visa

A Corporate Visa is granted to a Corporation rather than an Individual after confirmation from the Departments of Labour and Trade and Industry and only if it benefits South African interests. It also focused towards a specific skill set.

Liability and sanctions

In South Africa, the employer, to a significant extent, bears at least some liability for the immigration status of their foreign employees. Section 38 of the Immigration Act states that:

(1) No person shall employ-

(a) an illegal foreigner;

(b) a foreigner whose status does not authorize him or her to be employed by such 20

person; or

(c) a foreigner on terms, conditions or in a capacity different from those contemplated in such foreigner’s status.

(2) An employer shall make a good faith effort to ascertain that no illegal foreigner is employed by him or her or to ascertain the status or citizenship of those whom he or she 25 employs.

(3) If it is proven, other than by means of the presumption referred to in subsection (5).that a person was employed in violation of subsection (1), it shall be presumed that the employer knew at the time of the employment that such person was among those referred to in subsection (1), unless such employer proves that he or she-

(a) employed such person in good faith; and

(b) complied with subsection (2), provided that a stricter compliance shall be required of any employer who employs more than five employees or has been found guilty of a prior offence under this Act related to this section.

(4) An employer employing a foreigner shall -

(a) for two years after the termination of such foreigner’s employment, keep the prescribed records relating thereto: and

(b) report to the Department-

(i) the termination of such foreigner’s employment; and

(ii) any breach on the side of the foreigner of his or her status.

(5) If an illegal foreigner is found on any premises where a business is conducted. It shall be presumed that such foreigner was employed by the person who has control over such premises. unless prima facie evidence to the contrary is adduced.”

Section 38(2) of the Immigration Act places a clear duty on employers to ascertain the status of any employee or prospective employee. Furthermore, if an employer is found to have employed a person in violation of Section 38(1), it shall be presumed that such employer did so knowingly contravening the Act. Thus, the employer bears the onus to prove that an employee was lawfully employed.

It is therefore advisable to have a contractual clause, in which the employee in good faith, warrants that their status is in order in the event that it later transpires an employee’s status is unlawful. Furthermore, it is advisable for employers to insist on and keep copies of records of their employees’ documents and regularly check their status. In this manner, a stricter requirement can be contractually set in terms of Section 38(3)(b). A further step is to strictly control access to the workplace premises, allowing in only verified employees and thus avoiding the rebuttable presumption created by Section 38(5).

An employer failing to comply with Section 38 of the Immigration Act may face a fine or prison sentence not exceeding one year in terms of Section 49 of said Act. An arguably greater dilemma for the employer is that the employee is protected insofar as all provisions of the Labour Relations Act, 65 of 1995, as amended of and other law will still apply. This means that if an employer is found to be illegally employing a foreign national, due process must still be followed to terminate the employment.


It is clear that South African legislation tries to sway employers towards employing South African citizens. When seeking to employ foreign nationals, it is crucial to establish their lawful status before commencing employment. This is due to the fact that the Employee protections created by the Labour Relations Act and other statutes, may make it difficult to terminate the employment relationship later on if the employee is found to be working illegally. Contact SchoemanLaw for expert assistance in all employment-related matters.

This article was written by SchoemanLaw, partners of Workshop17, for publication on the Workshop17 blog.

Meet the Team: Michelle Saunt, Events Manager at Workshop17 West Street

Michelle Saunt, Workshop17 West Street Events Manager

The outdoors-loving busy bee, Michelle Saunt, is the Events Manager at Workshop17 West Street, Sandton

She was a proud Matie who received her sports science degree from Stellenbosch. After that, she completed her honours at Vega, specialising in brand strategy. Once she had finished her tertiary education, she travelled the world living in Canada for a couple of months before working on a luxury charter yacht for two years. On this yacht, she coordinated events and delivered five-star service to all the guests who boarded. Through this experience, she visited some magnificent places, including the Caribbean Islands and Puerto Rico.

Michelle, therefore, has a great love for travelling, and further pursued this interest by exploring America and backpacking through South East Asia. In 2015, she moved back to South Africa and settled in Johannesburg before joining our Workshop17 team in 2017 during the opening of Workshop17 West Street. Her work experience and travels have allowed her to deliver fantastic skills and a world perspective to our team, something which we are very grateful for.

What she loves most about the area she works in now, is that she can live out her passion for exploring. From visiting jazz bars, like Orbit to hiking in her local's surroundings like Muldersdrift and the game reserves nearby. Trying new things in one of her favourite pastimes and she says Johannesburg is the perfect fit to her personality as it is fast-paced and lively just like her.

Her other passions include leading a healthy lifestyle. Running is one of her favourite sports, and she feels most content at the beach. Slalom water skiing is also one of her hobbies, alongside eating out at the wonderful Wombles.

This wild spirit is currently planning her upcoming holidays already, so we will just have to wait and see what exciting adventures she pursues.

- post written by Jessica le Roux during her internship with us at Workshop17

Feature Post: BBBEE Compliance for Multinational Companies

Workshop17 West Street

Compliance with BBBEE is a turnover- based consideration. Businesses are categorised into 3 levels for this purpose, namely: Exempt Micro Enterprises (“EME”), Qualifying Small Enterprises (“QSE”) and Generic Enterprises (“GENERIC”). EME’s compliance is much more lenient than the other levels. QSE’s on the other hand, have relieved compliance in terms of the scorecard while GENERIC businesses require full scorecard compliance (without any relief).

Entities are measured on turnover as set out below:

EME - Annual Turnover less than R10 million

QSE - Annual Turnover of R10-50 Million

GENERIC - Annual Turnover over 50 Million

The scorecard elements are: Ownership, Skills development, Enterprise and Supplier Development, Socio Economic Development and Management Control.

What about Multinationals?

The BBBEE Codes of Good Practice recognise that compliance with BBBEE is a challenge for Multinationals and have made provision for the equity equivalent programme (EEP). In order for the Multinational to apply for any EEP, they would need to prove that they have not concluded an ownership transaction elsewhere in the world, as it is global policy not to do so, and they believe they may be prejudiced by doing so. EEP contributions count towards the ownership element of BBBEE made by Multinationals.

According to the DTI:

“The value of these EE contributions may be measured against 25% of the value of the Multinational’s South African operations or may be measured against 4% of the Total Revenue from its South African operations annually over the period of continued measurement.” 1 EEP would entail a public programme/scheme and/or private programme/scheme designed to fulfil the requirements of BBBEE ownership. 2 It may also entail a programme targeting investment or any other programme that promotes Socio-Economic advancement/ development within the South African Economy. It needs to be approved by the Minister of Trade and Industry in order to qualify for ownership points on the scorecard.


It is important that Companies that must comply with these Codes are properly advised from planning to implementation. For Multinationals compliance can be a daunting task, we therefore recommend reaching out to an expert at SchoemanLaw.

- Post written by SchoemanLaw, a partner of Workshop17
SchoemanLaw offers Workshop17 members access to their SME Self-Service Desk with access to legal documents ideal for SME’s, entrepreneurs and freelancers.

SAYes Mentoring | 2019 Call for Mentors

Workshop17 Watershed Meeting Room

SAYes Mentoring (, a Cape Town-based  non-profit that has facilitated mentoring for under-served young people in child and youth care centres for the last ten years, is recruiting for their 2019 programmes.

SAYes provides a structured, formal mentoring programme for young people growing up in challenging circumstances who are preparing to transition into independence. SAYes matches young people with volunteer mentors and provides a framework and ecosystem of specialised staff and resources to support the mentorship process. SAYes believes that the guidance, advocacy and support provided by mentors is key to preparing young people for independence and inspiring meaningful social change.

The organisation was founded in 2008 by UK actor, activist and writer, Gillian Anderson, and SAYes Executive Director, Michelle Potter. There were 15 mentor-mentee matches in the first-year programme. SAYes has now grown to more than 100 mentor-mentee matches and, over the last 10 years, it has facilitated 15,750 hours of mentoring for 392 young people in the Cape Town area.

Through the programme, mentors and mentees undergo mentorship training and then meet for weekly mentoring sessions. Throughout the year, mentor-mentee matches also attend monthly work-groups designed by SAYes to guide mentees towards improving independence and well-being.

SAYes is now recruiting for their 2019 programmes.

Individuals and businesses interested in making a positive impact in their communities, working with young people, and pushing their personal development boundaries are encouraged to attend a commitment-free information session, and/or apply to become a mentor.  

As SAYes founder and executive director, Michelle Potter, puts it: “Entire societies are strengthened when mentors and mentees come together across generational and socio-economic lines to grow together and learn from each other. Anyone interested in taking an active role in this type of social change should consider becoming a SAYes mentor.”

Further information on information sessions and the mentor application process is available online at

Meet the Team: Matshidiso Kekana, Events Manager at Workshop17 Firestation

Workshop17 Firestation Events Manager, Matchidiso Kekana

The community focussed, socially conscious, Matshidiso is our events manager at the Workshop17 Firestation in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

She has only been working for us for two months, but has already brought so much value to our team. Her open-minded, empathetic and loving nature has contributed to motivating our team to work together and embrace diversity. Cultural diversity, specifically, is the main reason she loves Johannesburg.

Matshidiso has a passion for people and previously worked for the hotel industry for ten years in the events department. She enjoys uniting people through their interests and has since continued this love by participating in charity events. She has a strong drive to give back to the community, which contributes to her favourite places being locations which are rich in history and appreciation for our country. These places include the Apartheid Museum and the Cradle of Humankind. Her strong will to help fellow South Africans can also be seen in her support of local street food markets in Tembisa. This market aims to support young and upcoming chefs who take the initiative to make Kasi foods. It is a wonderful initiative, where locals unite to embrace their cultures.

She is determined to inspire and help all, hence, she is also a motivational speaker and takes part in charity events at her church. Currently, she is organising a gala dinner to spoil those who are less fortunate. She is a true inspiration of an active community participant who gives her all to benefit others.

If she is not helping the community or working at Workshop17, then you can find her cooking and singing in the comfort of her own home. As much as she enjoys meeting new people, she also highly values quality family time and being a mother to her precious son. Her family is everything to her, and therefore, she always tries to be a great role model — a woman who achieves greatness, in both her work and in community involvement.

- post written by Jessica le Roux during her internship with us at Workshop17

Meet The Team: Jade Wichman, Community Manager at Workshop17 Watershed

Jade Wichman Community Manager at Workshop17 Watershed

The wonderfully social, Jade Wichman is the Community Manager at Workshop17 Watershed location in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.

She was an Ikey, who graduated with a bachelor of social work and was then given the position of Assistant Community Management with us at Workshop17. This stylish assistant has since then taken up the role of the Community Manager within our team. She has been working for us for just over two years now and has exceeded all our expectations with her goal-orientated and friendly nature.

Jade is always on top of her work and leaves no time for hesitation or doubt. Within the last year, alongside her job promotion, she also got engaged and started a family. She is now not only a successful career woman but also a mother to her beautiful baby girl. She manages to balance her work, social and family life so brilliantly, that we don’t know how she does it. With all these responsibilities, she still manages to be an energetic, beautifully presented and hardworking employee. She is a true inspiration for any working parent!

Her relaxation time though is where we believe she recharges herself. This takes place while she soaks up the warm sun on Cape Town’s stunning beaches. She loves having the sand between her toes, salt on her lips and breathing in the crisp smell of the ocean. Summer is by far her favourite season: the season of beautiful orange sunsets, and the atmosphere of happiness floating around the city.

Jade possess the traits of being trustworthy, caring and determined, contributing to her success in both her career and new family duties. She is overall just an amazing member of our team and we’re very lucky to have her with us.

- post written by Jessica le Roux during her internship with us at Workshop17

Meet The Team: Laura Edge, Events Manager at Workshop17 Watershed

Laura Edge, Workshop17 Watershed Events Manager

The multi-skilled, warm-hearted Laura Edge is the Events Manager at our Workshop17 Watershed team.

She took quite a leap into this job, she graduated with an undergrad in biochemistry and human physiology at UCT. She then further did her post-grad in sports management and managed the UCT U20 rugby team for five consecutive years. She helped guide them through three varsity cups and five league competitions. Through this experience, she learnt how to work well under pressure and communicate between large pools of people, seeing the importance of teamwork in aiming for success. These skills, which she gained in her sport-focussed studies, she continues to practise in her current managerial position with us.

Since 2016, she has been happily employed at Workshop17. We highly benefit from her strategic decision making and effective organisation skills. She enjoys being part of our team since we retain a positive work ethic and face our challenges straight on. Shortcuts are never taken, which further ties in with her determined personality which spans to her passion for fitness and sports, as she does Crossfit before her nine-hour work shift every morning. How impressive?

This talented women also has many other hobbies, including going to Clifton beach for a ‘lolly to make her jolly’, visiting the restaurant Erawan (which according to her serves the best Thai) and eating sushi, in the beautiful Rondebosch.

Alongside her work and many interests, she is also currently planning a wedding as a side project. I honestly couldn’t think of a better person to organise your dream day; she is a star and a great asset to Workshop17.

- post written by Jessica le Roux during her internship with us at Workshop17

Curiosity & The Coral Reef - Paul Keursten on Innovation & Positivity

Workshop17 Paul Keursten

In the midst of conversations regarding innovation and the creation of spaces where constructive collaboration happens, our intrigue led us to sit down with Paul Keursten. Paul is the co-founder of Workshop17 and chatted to us about the reality of expansion, the positivity behind curiosity and what being connected really means as another instalment of our #powerofJApositivity ambassadors’ series. So without further ado, we present to you an insight into the world of spatial innovation.

Workshop 17 recently won best co-working space in SA. What does it mean for the future and what can you attribute this recognition to?

I think we won because of our partners. Through our platform, we have built quite a lot of partnership networks like Start-up Grind, HeavyChef and FutureFemales who extend our reach significantly. It's not a commercial thing, because it doesn't bring in commercial results immediately - instead, it builds our network.

“Our vision is to be a coral reef.”

Innovation is not eureka moment but an evolution, a series of events or bouncing off ideas. In the book of Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From (there’s also a Ted Talk), there's the story of the coral reef. In one of his diaries, Darwin asks why is it that 90% of sea life that happens around coral reefs and the rest of the sea is so empty? It’s the combination of a fertile ground, with diversity and proximity. So that's one of our inspirations - to be the coral reef of innovation.

In order to be a coral reef you need to build both scale and proximity. The success is attributed to a community - it's not about the space, but about the people and about what happens in the space. And if that's what they recognise with the award, then I'm very happy.

Do you think word on the street about co-working spaces is starting to spread aggressively or is still a bit too subtle?

It's very aggressive in a certain group of people. Lots of people bought into it and Cape Town is one of the leading cities in Africa. Other people walk past, take pictures of W17, but they have no idea what it's all about. It's an interesting time, because co-working is not a niche anymore and it's becoming more and more mainstream. The notion that this is a service is still relatively new however.

You’ve said: “The co-working business is actually a hospitality business.” Can you expand on the parallels drawn between the two?

We discovered that we were in the hospitality business to tell the truth, because we thought we were just in property and facilities! It's about welcoming people, knowing them and making them feel at home - hospitality is the core of what we do. We want to create a place where people feel welcome and want to stay.

Co-working is a little bit inflated. So everyone who has a flexible office space calls it co-working, but co-working is something else than having all the cubicles in the back and having a little Cafe in the front. Part of the co-working trend is opportunistic, but if you have an office with closed doors then you're not a co-working space. How you connect your members - through hospitality - is critical.

The world has become obsessed with disruption - what does the notion mean to you and how do you make it a part of your business practice, in a positive way?

We're only at the beginning. It's about understanding, not the trend or the fashion, but what is actually happening underneath. What are the fundamental developments and which are the new questions we need to ask ourselves?

One of these questions is: “If the nature of work has changed so much, then why does the workplace still look the same as it did 20 years ago?” W17 didn't start from a notion of ‘let me disrupt how people are working’.

We saw that the way people work and the requirements of work has shifted. Work has become varied and multi-disciplinary. Change and innovation are part of many people’s jobs. And having ideas and input across functions and from beyond the company borders have become crucial. An environment that is designed for people sitting at their desks from 9 to 5 in a department where everyone around them has the same function, doesn’t support this. You need to surround yourself with people that can add some different angles. Cross-functional collaboration is happening more and more and we need to harness the power of it. And create work spaces that are conducive for this.

Workshop17 Paul Keursten

How do you create an environment for innovation?

We wanted to create a space where innovation happens, because we think it's needed - especially in a knowledge economy. But we don't shout it from the rooftops. We also know that innovation and idea generation can’t be planned and controlled in a traditional way. It is often dependent on a series of almost accidental meetings and breakthroughs. We want to create a space where these accidents can happen.

If you think about important moments in your life, it often relates to meeting someone and that meeting often wasn't even planned. Or it was planned with a different idea in mind but turned out to be a breakthrough moment.

“Innovation doesn't happen by plan. It happens by accident. And it doesn't happen in one moment.”

Innovation is actually a break of a pattern. Innovation can also be seen as just being happy at work. And social Innovation is as important as technological innovation. So we want to create an environment where such social and technological breakthroughs can happen - spaces and communities that foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

How do you remain positive while expanding in the progressive way that you are right now?

Maboneng was our first space in 2012 and my co-founder Mark Seftel and I put all our money into it. Maboneng was a no-go area two years before that moment. It has its issues, but it's our birth ground. You can talk about something as much as you like, but it’ll only mean something if you realise it and we’ve put our money where our mouth is.

“That's part of the entrepreneurship game - you have to go all in. Which we did.”

The second one was here (V&A Waterfront), the third in Sandton, then Paarl opened last October followed by the Fire Station in November. In Gauteng, we support two Township hubs, in partnership with Rhiza Babuyele. Next year we also have Kloof Street opening in Cape Town - so you can imagine the pressure.

The short answer to remaining positive is to stay connected and to remind myself I didn't start this business to make money. Of course we want it to be successful financially, but we started it because we wanted to create a space where people and businesses flourish and contribute to the success of themselves and of others. We wanted to create a level playing field for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. This is our ‘why'.

The inspiration is always in the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ and the trouble is always in the ‘how’. So always go back to ‘What am I trying to achieve?’ and ‘Where can I see it?’.

At my age I'm on my third start up /scale up, so I often ask myself ‘What did you do Paul? Why did you get yourself into trouble again?’. Because starting something is always trouble. So I could also have remained in my consulting company, with great consulting fees, but there's this drive.

What are your thoughts around how this will evolve into the future?

What drives us is this curiosity. If I knew it, I would not do it. I would not be creating something - I’d just be implementing something that is already known. We started Workshop17 in partnership with the Waterfront. We had a shared vision. And they trusted us to realise the vision. But when you start to do this, you cannot predict how it will turn out. So you start being curious about how it will pan out. We started with this vision about this ‘innovative space’ and how we create trust because trust enables so much more, where fear creates too many limitations.

The one thing that can drive you forward is curiosity; based on ambition or a vision that you have. I do believe that the best work is based on curiosity and not on having answers. If you had all of the answers, then you actually become arrogant - you're not learning anymore; you're not worrying about what people really need next.

Complacency results in a loss of curiosity when you just roll out a formula. For us, moving forward is thinking about constantly developing our next steps.

Thanks to Paul for the great discussion and the positive contribution enabled by the Workshop 17 team.

Our conversation with Paul brought about the realisation that:

“Ideas are only as powerful as they are adoptable.”

The ability to extend your reach relies on your capacity to connect, listen and involve all the parts to drive a vision towards success. Curiosity leads to a joy of discovery - which similarly can only be measured by the value which it adds to the masses. If the masses can’t adopt your discovery and make it their own however, then your discovery is merely of personal value and likely of little use. Most importantly, sustainable success is not a happenstance, it's something that constantly grows and requires a nurturing environment.

We’re looking forward to seeing more leaders adopt the ideologies shared by Paul as we believe them to be critical to understanding the future of work. If we are to adapt our approach to benefit both society and industry, then we must do so in a way that others can and want to adopt the positive means by which we do so.

JA. Culture

Written by Johan Bronkhorst Co-Founder and Director

Workshop17 Wins Prestigious Southern Africa Startup Award

Workshop17 Watershed Co-Working Space

Workshop17 won Best Coworking Space, South Africa, 2018 at the recent Southern Africa Startup Awards. It was one of 75 local finalists shortlisted across 15 categories.

The sought-after award was presented to Workshop17 for being “a co-working space that deserves recognition for its services, support and resources to fast-growing tech start-ups, and for creating a culture and environment that fosters innovation”. 

Workshop17 West Street Co-Working Area

Workshop17 (formerly Open Workspaces) creates and manages spaces in which startups, freelancers and companies -- big and small, profit and non-profit, new and experienced -- can work, meet, collaborate and innovate. It is a leading co-working space with an increasing number of locations in South Africa. 

Since its first co-working space opened in 2012, Workshop17 has grown into five iconic workspaces hosting over 2,000 members and 500 companies. More locations are in the pipeline.

Paul Keursten, CEO and Co-Founder of Workshop17, says, “We are thrilled to be recognised as a successful platform for a greater ecosystem of exciting businesses and entrepreneurs that are working to shape a powerful, prosperous Africa. Our members make us who we are. We believe in them and we are happy that they believe in us too. This award is thanks to our amazing members, an incredible team and great partners.”

Workshop17 co-working spaces are unique in that they offer more than simply a place to work; they actively foster a thriving community. Members are invited to regular public events supporting entrepreneurship, learning and networking in various fields. Workshop17 community managers and community ambassadors actively connect members who can help each other grow.

“We make it easy for businesses to grow and shrink with us. We want to be partners for the life of their business, support our members’ big wins and celebrate their successes with them,” says Paul. “Our plug-and-play spaces have everything from superb connectivity to on-site event and community managers; we take care of everything so the only thing you have to focus on is your business.”

Workshop17 Firestation Exterior

Its original space, Workshop17 Maboneng, opened in Johannesburg in 2012. Workshop17 V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, followed thereafter. Then, it took just two years for Workshop17 West Street, Sandton Central, to open in 2017, which also marked the start of Workshop17’s partnership with leading JSE-listed international property company Growthpoint Properties in a 50/50 joint venture.

In 2018, it added two locations, Workshop17 Tabakhuis, Paarl, and Workshop17 Firestation, Rosebank.

It has now set its sights on opening four new coworking spaces every year for the next five years, including expanding Workshop17 into other cities and beyond borders into other African countries.

Workshop17 Kloof Street will open in 2019 at 32 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town.

The Southern African Startup Awards are part of the Global Startup Awards, which spotlights those who dare to dream big and shape the way our future will look. It brings together ideas and talents from seven regions and 50-plus countries. Workshop17 will also compete in the regional grand final later this month.

Smartphone Portrait: Smart Move?


In the past month I have come across too many people admitting their profile portraits on their website were shot with a smartphone. Also there was no shame or guilty look in their eyes! 


Personally I don't think this is possible, and as this is my subjective view, I will have to explain myself using what I believe to be a good portrait as a framework. A good portrait should make the subject look good and make the viewer want to engage.

How do you make someone look good? They already look great you just have to harvest that light correctly to represent them in the best way possible, and this is where the technical bits come in.


The focal length of the camera in your smartphone ranges from 25mm to 31mm, this depends on the length of the lens and the size of the sensor. This is a prime lens so when you zoom in it actually just magnifies and crops this image and won't change the focal length, loosing quality in the process. This focal length is equivalent to a wide-angle lens when you compare it to a DSLR camera. These lenses are used to allow more of the environment to be captured within one image. Think of standing in a small room and being able to get more of your peripheral view into the picture. It bends the light to be able to do this and in turn will distort objects, making an object closer to the lens appear larger than usual. Now take this into consideration when taking a close up portrait of someone, that normal nose will become larger than life… Using a 70mm-100mm is considered ideal for portraiture, as this will get rid of lens distortion, creating a more flattering image and allow a bit of space between you and your subject, which would be less intimidating.

Canon 5d mkii, 50mm @f1.4

Canon 5d mkii, 50mm @f1.4


A longer lens in collaboration with the right aperture will also allow selective focus. Depth of field refers to the depth of an image that will be in focus. Wide lenses have a greater depth of field, allowing everything to be in focus while a longer lens will have a selective focus. So, when taking a portrait of someone where the subject is in focus and the background is blurry, the attention will stay on the subject. Or when doing close up's you can concentrate on the eyes for an engaging, intimate effect.


In the comparison you can easily see the distortion and the difference in depth, but now you can argue "He's not smiling!". With the iPhone I had to get very close to get the right crop while I was at a comfortable distance with the DSLR. 'Invading' the sitter space will effect the way the subject will react to the photographer. Niall was much more comfortable when I took a step back. There is also a shift in confidence that I've noticed on many occasions when you pull out the 'big guns'

iPhone5, default lense, automatic

iPhone5, default lense, automatic

Canon 5d mark ii, 70mm f4 @ 1/400

Canon 5d mark ii, 70mm f4 @ 1/400


Now the iPhone 7 with its portrait function is trying to replicate this effect. It uses a dual-camera system to create a faux depth of field effect with a Gaussian blur to simulate this effect. It houses a 28mm as well as a 56mm equivalent lens. This gets close to simulating the depth you can achieve with a wide lens so could work well with environmental portraits but not headshots and will not come close to what you can achieve with a proper portrait lens.


Lastly from a technical point of view, I just want to touch on light. Smartphones have proven themselves very capable of capturing natural light, so when studio is not involved, the smartphone can be seen as an equal. Here the photographer has to take responsibility of understanding light and how it effects it's subject. Top lit will create shadows under the eyes, incandescent lighting will give a yellow hue while under lit situations will create dark eyes and unflattering skin.


Getting to the second part of the framework, we can strip the photographer from all it's fancy camera's lights and equipment because in the end we're sitting with two people, a sitter and a photographer, an interaction and in the end a collaboration. Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery said it so well:


By Phillip Prodger



A portrait are not a mere likeness to the sitter, if that was the case everyone with a good lens or smartphone could be a great portraitist. As Phillip mentioned there is a connection between the sitter and the photographer that gets captured and carried to the viewer. What a good portrait is, will differ from person to person, some people wants vulnerability to be able to connect, some needs mystery to engage, some will need power to be challenged. To me these are all true, the most important thing is that the viewer want to engage with the sitter, to get to know or to understand.

What is a portrait but a visual representation of who you are and what you stand for. When someone is looking at a picture of you, there is no background dialog that explains your view, morals, passions or fears. Even a great portrait will not be able to communicate all of this, but a portrait should be able to spark an interest of wanting more: "I want to get to know this person" or " I want to work with this person" You can probably take an okay picture with your cell phone but then are we really striving for mediocrity?

  • This article was written by Marike Herselman and originally appeared on her blog. Marike is a portrait photographer based in Cape Town. Find out more about Marike on her website:

Substituted Service - A Mechanism to Catch Those Evasive Debtors

Workshop17 Blog

In terms of the Uniform Rules of Court in South Africa, any court Application or Summons is required to be served personally on the person you intend to act against (i.e. the “Respondent” or “Defendant”).

This is, however, not always possible due to various circumstances such as the Respondent and Defendant’s location being unknown or alternatively when they intend to evade court proceedings. A Debtor for instance may be ducking and diving, in order to avoid paying his/her debt. If this is the case, the Applicant and/or Plaintiff is entitled to approach the Court for relief by making application for substituted Service on the Respondent or Defendant.

Why is service in the Respondent or the Defendant so important?

Service of legal process is the procedure by which a party to a lawsuit gives an appropriate notice of initial legal action to the Respondent or Defendant, court or administrative body in an effort to exercise jurisdiction over that person so as to enable that person to respond to the proceeding before the court, body or other tribunal.

The Courts will therefore not grant any order in favour of the Applican or Plaintiff, should there not be sufficient proof of service. Proceedings without this, will result in wasted legal costs for the Applicant of Plaintiff or worse, not being able to claim the amount owing.

What is Substituted Service?

Substituted Service is the Service of process upon a Defendant and/or Respondent in any manner, authorised by statute or Rule, other than Personal Service within the jurisdiction as by publication, by mailing a copy to his or her own address. Substituted Service is permitted where the Defendant and/or Respondent is believed to be in the Republic of South Africa. If the whereabouts of the Defendant and/or Respondent is unknown the Application of Edictal Citation is combined with that of Substituted Service.

Usually the Application is made prior to the issue of the Summons and/or Application if the whereabouts of the Defendant and/or Respondent is unknown or if they are residing outside the republic of South Africa. This is quite common in the institution of Divorce Proceedings.

What are the grounds for Substituted Service?

If the whereabouts of the Defendant and/or Respondent is unknown, the Applicant must show:

a) that all information about the whereabouts has been fully investigated,

b) must indicate the steps taken to ascertain the present whereabouts of the respondent and/or Defendant, and

c) that the method of service is likely to come to the attention of the Respondent and/or Defendant.

The Court may order any manner of service it deems appropriate for example publication in a newspaper, service on family members or friends, service by fax and even e-mail, is a proper care is made out. This list is however, not exhaustive and will depend on the facts of each use.

The Court must also determine the time period within which Notice of Intention to Defend or Notice of Opposition should be filed. This must be provided for in both the Application and Action process.

Can service of court process be served by way of social media?

CMC Woodworking Machinery Case:

According to Admitted Attorney, Conveyancer, an experienced editor for the De Rebus, namely, Kim Hawkey, an amendment to the Uniform Rules of Court has opened the doors to the service of court documents using modern electronic technology, including social media platforms.
This amendment was put to purpose in the recent case of CMC Woodworking Machinery the outcome of which represents a significant move towards embracing technological developments in the context of legal prescripts.

Steyn J stated:

“Changes in the technology of communication have increased exponentially and it is therefore, not unreasonable to expect the law to recognise such changes and accommodate [them].”

“Courts, however, have been somewhat hesitant to acknowledge and adapt to all the aforesaid changes and this should be understood in the context that courts adhere to established procedures in order to promote legal certainty and justice.”

Therefore, despite the court’s openness to new forms of media, Steyn J emphasised that each case must be decided on it’s own merits and must also take into account the type of document that is to be served. In terms of the onus for the granting of Substituted Service on social media or other electronic media, the court pointed out that the Applicant bore the onus of providing that

  • service via Facebook was warranted; and

  • there was a real likelihood that the Notice would be brought to the attention of the Respondent.


As clear from above, if the whereabouts of the Respondent and/or Defendant are unknown, the Applicant and/or Plaintiff can make Application for Substituted Service on the Respondent and/or Defendant and in certain circumstanced by way of court order.
No individual can duck and dive forever as legal process can now be served by social media as way of Court Order.

Contact an expert at SchoemanLaw to assist you today!

- Written by Shannon Vengadajellum

This article was written by SchoemanLaw, partners of Workshop17, for publication on the Workshop17 blog.

Workshop17 Launches Tabakhuis in Paarl

Workshop17 Tabakhuis Boardroom

Workshop17 - known and trusted for their outstanding co-working spaces at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and Maboneng, Johannesburg - have just announced the opening of their latest co-working space in Paarl, Western Cape: Tabakhuis.

Workshop17 Tabakhuis, on the corner of Tabak and Louws Street in Southern Paarl, is in a historical building that was once used as a storage facility for tobacco, hence the name. It has been carefully and stylishly transformed into a work and meeting place for communities

“I am very excited about Tabakhuis opening,” says Paul Keursten, co-founder and CEO of Workshop17. “We always look for locations with a wow factor, and Tabakhuis being a more than 100-year-old former warehouse definitely offers that.”

Aside from its deep-seated historic value, the building’s location lends itself even more to the ideal business location, situated just off the Main Road in Paarl, close to the N1 highway, with ample parking.

Tabakhuis’s design is centred around the social workspace within the café environment,and is aimed to encourage idea generation, collaboration and sharing between startups, seasoned professionals, and small and large companies alike.

Along with over 140 hot desks, 16 private offices, four semi-private offices, and a vibrant cafe, Tabakhuis will offer members Ideas Lounges, pause rooms, informal meeting booths, and lounges - along with a fully-equipped seminar room that can seat up to 80 people. All with the single aim to encourage employees to work closely together, and foster creativity and innovation.

Says Paul, “Tabakhuis our first location outside of Cape Town and Johannesburg. We strongly believe these regional locations offer a great solution to combine work and lifestyle, reducing time in traffic, enabling members to watch their children play sports, and still have inspiring encounters with fellow professionals and entrepreneurs in a great space to work.

Based on a membership model, Workshop17 Tabakhuis offers memberships to suit all needs and work styles - from the frequent traveller who needs a couple of hours a month, to the entrepreneur who requires fast wifi, stylish meeting rooms and printing facilities.

Members with full memberships also have access to all the other Workshop17 spaces around the country, including Cape Town, Maboneng, Sandton, and soon in Rosebank and Cape Town City Centre. Workshop17 is a practical solution for business owners who have clients in Johannesburg and Cape Town enabling them to comfortably host meetings in stylish and comfortable spaces.

Workshop17 Tabakhuis opened to members on 01 October 2018.

Non-Disclosure Agreements: Protecting your Rights and Interests


NDAs or as they have otherwise come to be known as Confidentiality Agreements or Trade Secret Agreements, are legally binding contracts that bind either one or multiple parties. The Agreement protects confidential information from being disseminated to the public at large or being used or assimilated by signees. In circumstances where parties are required to disclose confidential information it is advisable to enter into an NDA to protect your rights and interests.

Who can and how many parties can enter into an NDA?

An NDA can be entered into unilaterally, wherein one party is presenting their business plan, idea, design, concept or proposal to another, either as an individual, company, larger corporation, banking institution, Non- Profit Organisation or Government Department in terms of an application or a tender. When presenting the confidential information, it would be advisable to have the party to which you are presenting sign an NDA to protect your rights and interests to safeguard your hard work and effort in creating and/or developing the confidential information.

The Agreement can also be entered into bilaterally or multilaterally, this often occurs in instances of Joint Ventures, wherein both parties or more are presenting their confidential information to be used as a conglomerate. In such circumstances all parties would sign an NDA to safe- guard their own confidential information from being disseminated, used or assimilated by the other parties and vice versa.

NDA Essentials

Firstly, the type and scope of the confidential information which one would want to protect. A business plan, music score, architectural design, software or app coding would need to be specifically stated so that should a party breach the NDA, it would be clear to any reasonable person what the NDA was specifically drafted to protect.

Secondly the time frame the information is to remain confidential would need to be stated. This can either be in the form of a specific date, a time period from once the NDA is signed or upon the conclusion of a specific event. This would ensure that the confidential information one seeks to protect would be held so till such future time or event.

Thirdly the specific parties to the NDA are named so that the specific person or if it is an entity, the entity and all its employees, are held to the terms of the NDA. It is vital to ensure that the employee or representative of the entity holds the necessary authorisation to carry out such discussions and to bind the entity to the NDA.

Concluding an NDA

In reality when presenting a confidential information to a larger corporation or Government you are not in the authoritative position to negotiate should they refuse to sign an NDA. As a small to medium size enterprise (“SME”) one is often reliant on acquiring such business, panel application, tender or investment from the larger corporations.

If you have not already Copyrighted or Patented your idea it is best to have your confidential information recorded with a date and time stamped. In terms of music scores as an example, making a copyright application would provide a record of the date and time when the application was made till such time as the copyright is authorized, prior to this sending the score by registered mail to oneself therefore having the post office’s seal recording the date and time when posted.

Presenting a NDA for signature even if refused illustrates your intention to protect your confidential information wherein you can state that the information to be presented is done so under strict terms of none disclosure.

It would be in your best interest in such circumstances to only present a demo or wholistic view of your design or business plan. In terms of an app, presenting the interface of the app and what it is designed to carry out for a client wherein the specific coding thereof is not presented to the parties. This would ensure that the design could potentially be replicated but the inner working on how the app works are not disclosed.


Creating and developing a business plan, design, app or music score takes many hours of hard work not to mention conceptualising the idea itself. Such information should be held confidential and should be safeguarded against being disseminated, used or assimilated by other parties. When negotiating or making an application it is vital to protect your rights and interests, having a NDA drafted would better enable you to protect your rights and interests in your confidential information. Contact an Attorney at SchoemanLaw Inc. to assist you in protecting your rights by drafting a NDA today.  

This article was written for Workshop17 by Peter McRae-Samuel, Attorney at SchoemanLaw Inc


The SchoemanLaw SME Self- Service Desk TM is an online platform whereby Entrepreneurs can obtain access to quality legal products for a fraction of the cost. The Notice of Unpaid Suspension (as alternative to dismissal) as well as the Disciplinary Hearing Pack can be purchased on the SME Desk. Kindly see more about the SME Desk here: If you click here, you will have access to 2 Agreements that you can download for free. Click here to register as a transactional user: You will only pay for the documents that you download and use. If you are still not sure if this is the correct platform to use for your legal needs, see the demo video that shows how the SME Desk works, here:

Contact SchoemanLaw Inc for expert advice and assistance on all Employment-related matters. Visit our website at for more information about all the legal products and services that SchoemanLaw Inc offers.

OPEN Workspaces Announces a Nationwide Rebrand to Workshop17

Leading South African co-working space brand, OPEN Workspaces, announced its intention to rebrand to Workshop17 across all its spaces on Monday, 20 August 2018.

OPEN, a joint venture between Refuel Properties and Growthpoint, designs, builds and manages inspiring and comfortable spaces to work, meet, learn, and hold events. It has three existing co-working spaces - OPEN Maboneng and Sandton in Johannesburg, and Workshop17 at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

More than Fast Internet and Good Coffee

Although co-working and flexible office spaces have been around for some time now, the field is changing rapidly. Where a few years ago it was estimated flexible office could grow to 5% or 10% of the office market, current estimates speak of 20% to 25%.

“The way people work has changed dramatically,” says Paul Keursten, co-founder of OPEN, “and this has had a fascinating impact on the spaces they need and how they use them.”

Co-working spaces aren’t only for freelancers and startups; corporates have also started moving into shared spaces and recognise the benefits of an evolved work environment that fosters a unique meeting of minds.

Says Paul Keursten, “These developments challenge us as operators to push our envelopes in terms of innovation and quality. Work is part of living, and workspaces become more of a lifestyle choice. High speed internet, ergonomics, and good coffee are still important but merely a licence to operate. The focus for our future spaces and for the way we service our members stems from asking the question, ‘How does working in our spaces help our members realise their dreams and enjoy the road to get there?’”

OPEN’s Nationwide Rebrand to Workshop17

OPEN Workspaces announced that it is continuing as Workshop17. The name change will include the current space in the V&A Waterfront, as well as the spaces in Sandton and Maboneng, bringing them together under one brand.

OPEN’s collaboration with Growthpoint and the V&A Waterfront will ensure that the vision for community, lifestyle, and excellence will continue to grow under the Workshop17 brand.

“What has always set OPEN apart from other co-working spaces,” says Westleigh Wilkinson, Operations and Sales Director of OPEN, “and what will continue under the Workshop17 brand, is our belief that you don’t have to sacrifice excellence and beauty in your quest for creativity and innovation. Our spaces will always be beautiful and well run. But more than that, we foster a living, vibrant community that is creative, and inspiring, and this will continue to be our focus under the Workshop17 banner.”

What we can expect from Workshop17 going forward

Workshop17 will grow as a national platform for entrepreneurship and innovation, with three new locations opening in the next six months and four more to come in the 12 months after.

Workshop17 will then be a connected community of about 4,000 members from over 1,000 companies, with several public and community events every week and cafés open to everyone.

The first new Workshop17 location to open on 1 October will be Tabakhuis in Paarl, followed by the Firestation in Rosebank on 1 November, and 32 Kloof Street in Cape Town on 1 April next year.

With rave reviews from event organisers, day visitors, and full-time members, Workshop17 spaces are set as a firm favourite for entrepreneurs and corporates alike.

Workshop17 Kloof Street.jpg
Workshop17 Tabakhuis Lounge.jpg
Workshop17 Tabakhuis Exterior.jpg
Workshop17 Firestation.jpg

Are you challenged because you are not a natural networker?

Workshop17 Maboneng Eventing

Networking is a critical tool for any entrepreneur. This is especially true during the start-up phase, however making valuable connections with people will prove important throughout the lifecycle of your business.

Networking doesn't come naturally to many of us. And, interestingly, while most people assume that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be an extrovert, this isn't actually the case and many entrepreneurs who have created great businesses are not naturally out-going.

So, are there any tricks for avoiding painfully awkward networking moments and for getting the most out of networking opportunities?

Understand the kind of introvert you are

Executive and life coach Nikki Worlman explains the difference between thinking and feeling introverts.

“Thinking introverts are reflective and contemplate situations before they face them.” This does mean that they are very curious and they can use this to their advantage by preparing questions before an event where they’ll need to engage with strangers.

Worlman says: “They have a wonderful ability to listen to others and this can form a great level of connection because we all like to feel that we’re heard and that what we have to say is interesting." 

Introverts with a feeling preference tend to not only be great listeners but are also able to display empathy. This means they have an ability to be attuned to the finer nuances of a social setting. Again, this is a real attribute as it enables a sense of calm and thoughtfulness – traits that are compelling to others.   

Prepare to break the ice

Doing some preparation before a networking event can make a real difference to your experience. If you know who the other attendees or speakers are going to be, a great idea is to make contact with one or two of them that you’re particularly interested in, before the event takes place.

A quick intro email to say that you’re keen to hear more about their work, for example, can be a useful ice-breaker so that when you meet them face to face, you’ve already made their acquaintance. It also means that worst case scenario, you’ll be connecting with at least one person and you won’t be faced with nothing to say.

Follow-up to further the conversation 

Networking is a pretty pointless exercise if you don’t do follow-ups after the initial meeting. This could be a phone call, an email or better still a request to connect on LinkedIn using a personal message – not the standard auto message.

Again, this can work in your favour if you’ve recalled a conversation from your encounter with the person and can reference something that was said in your message. It feels personal and sincere. 

It might look like everyone knows each other when you arrive at an event, but they really don't. If you leave having made two or three authentic connections that have planted the seeds of a potential relationship with someone – that is the desired outcome. It’s likely to materialise into far more value for you than having had meaningless conversations with tons of people.

- Article written by Paul Keursten and originally appeared on

Paul Keursten is co-founder of OPEN Workspaces. OPEN currently has three co-working locations: Workshop17 at the V&A Waterfront, OPEN Sandton and OPEN Maboneng. Four more are scheduled to launch in in the next 12 months. OPEN also supports three township locations through its partner Rhiza. Keursten's focus areas are entrepreneurship, innovation and learning.


Tips to help you keep up your entrepreneurial energy

Keeping up your entrepreneurial energy

Start-up founders will know that late nights and long days come with the territory. Here’s how you can keep yourself motivated to succeed – even when you feel drained.

It's hard graft in the early days and in order to avoid burn-out, it's important that entrepreneurs maintain good mental, emotional and physical health. Your environment, the people in it and some key thought processes can play a crucial role in maintaining some form of balance.  

Connect with the right people 

Think carefully about the people in your network who are your greatest supporters. They are more than likely those individuals who believe in you and whether they realise it or not, they build you up.

Related: Entrepreneurship lessons from Stephen Hawking

This could be a contact from a previous job, your old boss, a mentor or a previous client. If it’s someone you have a connection and a great working experience with, they will be a supportive and valuable sounding board along your entrepreneurial journey. We all need to connect with people who are a positive source of moral support, especially during those times when you’ve hit a brick wall and are needing positive reinforcement to get back on track.

Accept that mistakes and failures will happen

Success stories of start-ups who beat the odds to become thriving businesses are inspiring and can provide the impetus for others to follow suit. But, we don’t get to hear about the bad business decisions and failed start-ups quite as much. As any entrepreneur will attest to, a multitude of questionable ideas and plans have often preceded the great idea. So, what does this mean for you?

Well, hearing honest accounts of some of these mistakes can be immensely encouraging in that it’s a reality check that we all make them.

Unplug to recharge your entrepreneurial batteries 

Entrepreneurs are renowned for pulling all-nighters especially during the start-up phase of a business. While there are times when long hours are par for the course, it’s also vital todisconnectin order to recharge. 

And we’re not talking about your mobile phone. Disconnect from your immediate surroundings – and your desk – and seek out a completely different environment. So, whether it’s stepping out of the workplace for much needed exercise or even hosting a meeting in an unlikely place, changing things up can provide much-needed inspiration for your next big push.

Igsaan Salie, owner of app development start-up Appy Apps believes that merely sitting in a different space every day can awaken a sense of awareness. “I never sit in the same place every day. And I am strongly encouraging my new team members to do the same. I believe distributed or remote work is a skill that needs to be refined, worked on and practiced.” 

Make decisions based on a desired future not a feared one

When we have a goal, it’s easy to sometimes feel the fear of failure to reach that goal. This can set in motion a spiral of negative thinking that places the focus on what we might not achieve and how bad this would make us feel.

Instead, try to visualise what success would mean to you. This means different things for different people but by setting your sights on the end-goal and how you would experience that, you’re perpetuating the feeling of a desired outcome. Every time you do this, it re-ignites the inspiration you need to overcome hurdles and makes you focus on what you want to create instead of what you want to prevent.

For Salie and his decision to leave corporate employment and start his own app business, having time in the morning to dedicate to his son and baby daughter has been what it’s all about. The other key driver has been selecting projects that he is passionate about and (more importantly) being able to decline work that he knows would make him miserable. “I never had that choice in corporate and am celebrating that freedom now. If you aren’t enjoying what you do, you probably shouldn’t be doing it,” he says.

- Article written by Paul Keursten and originally appeared on

Paul Keursten is co-founder of OPEN Workspaces. OPEN currently has three co-working locations: Workshop17 at the V&A Waterfront, OPEN Sandton and OPEN Maboneng. Four more are scheduled to launch in in the next 12 months. OPEN also supports three township locations through its partner Rhiza. Keursten's focus areas are entrepreneurship, innovation and learning.

5 Reasons Why Innovation in Africa Works Best in a Community

Community Innovation in Africa.png

With more and more South African entrepreneurs starting businesses in response to the country’s unique challenges, it’s no wonder that, out of the 30 entrepreneurs on Forbes’s recent ‘Africa’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs’ list, seven come from South Africa.


The business of small businesses in South Africa is booming. Start-ups are popping up everywhere with innovative, outside-of-the-box business ideas that answer the ever-growing need for practical, viable solutions in energy, tech, education, payments and more.

Start-ups need all the support they can get in order to give them a fighting chance to make it to market and become sustainable, and, along with governmental support, independent business incubators and shared workspaces are offering this much-needed support all over South Africa.

So, what is it about start-ups operating out of a community, such as an incubator or shared workspace, that helps separate them from the rest?


  1. Collaboration: Not one single person has all the answers. South African entrepreneurs often play their cards close to their chests out of fear that someone might steal their great idea and take it to market before they do. In Silicon Valley however, the trend is that everyone collaborates – when two individuals meet who might be working towards the same goal or product, but with different approaches or skill sets, instead of seeing each other as competition, they will instead collaborate with the understanding that, together, they can get there faster, cheaper and do things better than on their own. Collaboration is where the magic is at.
  2. Connection: Getting out of the mind-set of working in silos is not something entrepreneurs fall into by accident; it is a deliberate, concerted decision that changes the way we behave. People strive for and thrive on connections. That’s why social media platforms are so popular – we love to connect with others like us. Connecting is a fundamental need that shared workspaces fulfil. The rewards are astronomical – belonging to a community of people who are like-minded, innovative, enthusiastic and creative makes the long hours and the potentially lonely life of an entrepreneur more bearable.
  3. Communication: Being kept in the loop of the latest news and events, trends and learnings, sets entrepreneurs apart from those still stuck in their garages. Knowledge is power – getting the inside scoop about an event or a networking opportunity could be the edge you need.
  4. Complimentary: When a shared workspace is run well, its occupants should represent a complimentary tenant mix of services, products, ideas and interests, and not a conflicting or competitive mix. Keeping diversity ensures that there is a place and a space for everyone to grow, where creativity and innovation can flourish.
  5. Camaraderie: When you’re in a community of entrepreneurs who are just as hungry and motivated as you are, there’s a common understanding of the high demands and sacrifices needed to succeed as a start-up. Likewise, your successes are celebrated with those who have seen your struggle and journey every step of the way.

Solutions for South Africa’s problems are coming from South Africans, and in the spirit of ubunthu it is fitting that the community model is proving to be the one most supporting this rapid growth in start-ups.

Collaborate and Innovate at Workshop17 in the V&A Waterfront

Workshop17 Blog Innovate Collaborate V&A Waterfront.png

The Waterfront has truly grown into a place for everyone. On top of all its current offerings – shopping, eating, nightlife, water sports, boat trips, helicopter rides, accommodation, creative designer spaces and so much more – the V&A continues to expand. The latest space set to make waves is Workshop17. This is an innovative space where those involved in entrepreneurship and creating a positive social and economic impact can meet, work and network.

Workshop17, housed in the Watershed, is essentially a co-working space. It’s a place where innovative like-minded people and small businesses can get together to collaborate towards a better country and continent through various projects.

Those interested in being part of the Workshop17 community, whether as an individual or a community, can apply online. Aside from working side-by-side with people who share similar goals and interests, there are other great benefits to being a member of Workshop17. These include:

  • A large co-working area with hot desks, meeting areas and dedicated work areas for teams
  • Eight rooms that can host meetings, teaching, presentations and cater for groups of different sizes
  • Two creative spaces that are conducive to coming up with great and innovative ideas and plans
  • A 330m2 event and function room that offers an amazing view of Table Mountain and the dock, and can hold up to 200 participants Super-fast internet connection

There are various membership rates at Workshop17 with drop-in rates and hourly rates also available. There is a review process for the majority of the applications. Applicants will be vetted on whether or not they are able to benefit from and contribute towards the culture of Workshop 17.

When explaining the vision behind the space, David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront, said, “Our plan was to create a space in which start-ups and experienced companies, profit and non-profit, big and small, could come together to collaborate and innovate. The space will facilitate a community of passionate, innovative and interesting people, learning and working together to create new solutions.”

The V&A worked with Open who are specialists in creating collaborative workspaces. When chatting about this space, Paul Keursten from OPEN said, “Workshop17 will go beyond a traditional co-working space. We are creating a multifunctional platform on which people and organisations can work, share, innovate and showcase. On this platform everyone is treated equally: it is a level playing field where personal passion, ideas and contributions matter and status and hierarchy are left at the door.

“We build on the idea that new solutions come about when people from various backgrounds come together and exchange ideas. At OPEN, we often witness how unexpected meetings and exchanges bring inspiration and new opportunities.

“Workshop17 will provide a space where these positive accidents can happen frequently.”

For more information: or contact

Article originally appeared on Cape Town Travel, 


The Future of Shared Workspaces

Artboard 1.png

Shared workspace is fast becoming the trend for entrepreneurs and early adopters in South Africa, with more and more start-ups moving out of their garages and into spacious, trendy buildings that have been renovated and dedicated to the concept that is co-working, like Workshop17 in the Watershed at the V & A Waterfront. Workshop17 is a V&A initiative, designed, and operated by OPEN.

“Technology has changed how we behave as a society and community,” says Westleigh Wilkinson, director of OPEN, “so it follows that how we work must change as well. Businesses cannot afford to lock their people away in closed offices anymore, or be stuffed into shoe-box cubicles.  At least, not if they want to keep on innovating.”

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, attracted by the idea of a shared burden of expense and the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people, are thriving under the added benefit of community and collaboration often associated with a shared workspace.

“The next generation of shared workspace is moving beyond simply providing a large room with desks and chairs in it,” says Westleigh, “and is now evolving into a more deliberate manipulation of the environment and moveable elements to better provoke spontaneous and natural collaboration, innovation and networking.”

“That’s what we moved to Workshop17, after looking for a year for a place that was right for us,” says Vincent Raffray, founding partner and creative director of Future Collective. “Future Collective’s mandate is to create a forever brand for our clients, and to do so effectively, our built-in radar for things authentic and relevant is in overdrive. We felt a real harmony with Workshop17 and the ethos behind what they are trying to achieveIt’s all about community and collaboration, about bumping into people and forming bigger, better ideas. The tables and chairs, and great coffee shop and world class meeting rooms are not the focus. Rather, they are the tools that help us lean into what we can become as a business, and as innovators.

Vincent has owned and operated ad agencies all over the world,but it was his passion to help companies adapt that lead him to co-create Future Collective in Cape Town. “When we started Future Collective, we wanted to help companies stay relevant and easily adapt,” says Vincent. “Take Kodak. In 2012 they declared bankruptcy, while in the same year Instagram sold for $1billion. If Kodak had developed their own platform for instant images, they would have stayed relevant and might have fared better.”

Vincent carries on explaining the process of creating a forever brand. Storytelling, Ritual, Area, Tools and Staff are at the heart of the process.

“The guys at Workshop17 are nailing this, because they have intuitively understood the fundamentals behind staying relevant and authentic – at the heart of it is a team of great people who live and breathe the values and ethos that is Workshop17. Sure there are a few challenges, like the sounds coming from the dry dock outside the Watershed, but that also adds a bit of flavour to the vibe, and we love it here; there’s room for us to grow.”

“I’ve often said that we see shared workspaces as a living organism, much like a coral reef,” says Westleigh Wilkinson from OPEN. “That’s why we’ve been careful with our selection of tenants at Workshop17, simply because we believe diversity makes for a healthier ecosystem. There’s a place at Workshop17 for entrepreneurs of all disciplines. As long as your offering is innovative, we want you.”