Innovation That Matters

UK non-profit agency brings the buy-one-give-one model to property

Work & Lifestyle

A new project allows businesses to subsidise and share their office space with community-led ideas and experimental projects.

The growth of startups and social enterprises in recent years has lead to an expansion of innovation focusing on supporting the needs of small businesses. We recently wrote about this coworking space that offers free desk space in exchange for content, and this business that hooks up travelling freelancers, interested in working for startups in exchange for accommodation. Now, BuyGiveWork is a project that allows corporate businesses paying for office space to subsidise space for non-profits.

BuyGiveWork aims to bring tech start-ups, small businesses and corporate teams closer to local non-profits and experimental projects. For every space purchased one will be given away to a non-profit serving the local area, an early stage start-up, or for an experimental community-led idea. Launched by non-profit urban agency 3Space, this is the first time a buy-one-give-one business model, made famous by TOMS shoes, has been applied to property. The project was first launched in London at co-working space Keeton’s and Collett in late 2016 and is now expanding to Platform Four – 3Space’s new space in Manchester. The advantages for non-profits are clear. But the idea also offers clear benefits to businesses involved: a greater sense of purpose to the typical work environment, and the opportunity to gain insight from the diversity the relationship brings. 3Space CEO Andrew Cribb says, “We don’t like the term CSR because so often it means something unconnected such as painting a fence, whereas we believe the coming-together of work environments provides a real opportunity for shared value exchanges between for-profits and non-profits.”

The Bermondsey space has been provided free-of-charge for the experimental Green Lab, where start-ups and academics are working on urban growing technologies. One of the start-ups there, Friche, has created a vertical growing wall producing fresh lettuces which also provides a privacy screen for workers in the meeting space. Could this idea be more widely adopted by larger corporate organisations?




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