P2P Story: Warehouse Coworking Factory meets Networks INT

Ronnie, Co-founder and Director of Warehouse Coworking Factory in Italy went to Bosnia and Herzegovina in August 2017 to meet Networks INT through the European Creative Hubs Network and the Peer-to-Peer Scheme (P2P). This is his article about the experience of exchanging knowledge, creative hub to creative hub.

Warehouse Coworking Factory is a collaborative organization and creative hub based in Italy, in the coastal Region of Marche.  The space, a former handicraft warehouse-turned-coworking space, in the past four years it has been gathering in the small town of Marotta talented freelancers, prospective and emerging entrepreneurs, and small businesses from all over the region. Marche Region is a very fragmented Italian District, made up of small cities and towns, and characterized by the exceptional and largely untapped energy and creativity of the local traditional and emerging entrepreneurs. Warehouse is a highly regarded hub where all these experiences gather in one single space, and connect on different projects and activities.

Although our professional community is very much embedded in our territory, economy, cultural and social peculiarities and Warehouse is starting to be acknowledged as an important stakeholder for local development, since the very beginning we (the founders of the space and the community of professionals gravitating towards it) felt the necessity to be connected beyond the boundaries of our villages and cities and to build transnational relations networking with fellow hubs allover Europe, with a special and natural look at the other side of the Adriatic sea, particularly at the Balkan Region. This took us to be part of informal hubs’ networks and collaborate with spaces and people in Ljubljana, Zagreb, and Belgrade. Networks Sarajevo was the missing hub in our networking puzzle.

During the European Creative hubs’ forum in Athens, last January, I had the opportunity to exchange with Senad Alibegovic, the community manager of Networks Sarajevo.

In that occasion, actually we both have been offered the opportunity to bring our experiences within the same panel dedicated to entrepreneurship education and skills development, a common ground where both hubs are dedicating projects and energies, especially to answer the problem of youth unemployment. And it was in that occasion where I started thinking that our two experiences might have had a lot to learn from each other and to exchange.

I decided to go to Sarajevo by car and bring along my family (by the way, my wife is community manager at our space, and my daughter …my daughter just like to be always with us 🙂

It’s like if I wanted to feel, on the road, the valuable relations and the projects that Warehouse Coworking Factory has been implementing during the past four years together with really capable and talented people across the sea. It was a real journey made up of several stages: I met my friend Luka Piskoric from Poligon Kreatvni Center in Lubijana for a nice lunch. I stopped in Zagreb at Mirela Marovic Omerzu’s, she is the founder of BIZkoshnica Coworking and finally I entered Bosnia Herzegovina, reached the beautiful Sarajevo and immediately I felt at home thanks to the warm welcome of Networks people.

The city is impressively beautiful.

Eldin Alimanovic was the one who kindly introduced me to the entire Networks’ team. The funny thing was that Senad was simultaneously having his P2P exchange in Madrid.

Eldin is such a great guy, attentive and the one who create and maintain a thriving atmosphere of interactivity in the space.

Then I met Bojana Skrobic Omerovic, director of Networks, Altijana, Alma, Belma, Naida, Adnan and all Network’s family and I was introduced to the stunning 5 floors interactive modern space and its wonderful coworking community.

The week I spent at Networks was really intensive and stimulating.

Inside this place is where I concretely realized how a creative hub, with a community of active people engaged with and for its city and Country can really move things forward and significantly contribute to local development.

Networks is a place which looks positively at the future, which inspires innovation and helps the development of new ideas and new entrepreneurship, focusing on people and human potential and making its work accessible also to local and rural communities.

During my stay, I had the privilege to participate to the official presentation of Sarajevo Unlimited a two-day unique conference, on its second edition, which will take place at the beginning of November (November 2-4) and which will bring together relevant institutions, companies, organization, startups and investors from all over the Country with an aim of promoting innovation in business, innovative management and the use of resources of startup companies. The launching happening at Networks, the night of my arrival, was participated by local and national authorities, the start up scene and representatives of big corporations, partners in the event.

The preparation of this important conference in Sarajevo is of course still ongoing at Networks and it is a big challenge for Networks people and team. Belma is in charge of setting up the organization of resources and events within the forum and is doing a great job..

I remained positively impressed by Networks capability and experience to partner with companies and big corporations. 

During my stay I also had the opportunity to give a workshop on Equity Crowdfunding to Networks’ start up and meet some of them in one-to one gatherings.

I must say, the teams of young people I met, like Bizbook.ba, are really creative, insightful, tenacious and above all enthusiastic about what they are doing.

In the same week I moved together with Bojana Skrobic Omerovic and others from Networks’ team, director of Networks- Sarajevo to a rural area where I contributed with a lecture to a one-day workshop for the training of prospective managers of social centers in 6 local communities.

This training activity was part of the project implemented by UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina “Strengthening the role of the local community in BIH”. This activity motivated me a lot, and I thank the Network’s team once again to allow me to take part in this workshop which took me back in time, to my previous professional commitment within International Development Cooperation, when after such a days you walk away feeling that you did something very important for some people.

I appreciated a lot this partnership between Networks and the United Nation Development Program: this is also a significant and creative way you can implement social innovation.

I felt like we have many things in common, as part of a global movement of social innovators and entrepreneurs, who are creating solutions to the world’s most critical problems.

Networks and Warehouse may differ in size and local context, but we found more aspects in common than we originally thought. The sharing of our stories and experiences resulted in an exercise of creative thinking among us which brought us to sit around a table to discuss a common project through which we would like to target youth unemployment and support prospective entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative sector – eventually involving also the Italian Institute of Culture in Sarajevo- promoting and using creativity as a tool for social change.

And once again, what we think at Warehouse Coworking Factory was confirmed: social innovation is innovation in social human relations. I am really grateful to have had the opportunity of such an experience.