Marcelo Moraga – Chilean Economic Ecosystem and Collaboration

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Hello everyone. Thanks for tuning in to another Coworking Values Podcast! We always make it a point to have guests from all over Europe and occasionally we invite friends from the U.S. And now we venture in Latin America. Our guest for this episode is from Chile.

Our guest is Marcelo Moraga, president and co-founder of Chile Cowork and the current director of Aldea Cowork in Osorno, Chile. Chile Cowork is the first association of coworking spaces in Chile. 

Marcelo talks about how coworking started in Chile and how they progressed over the years and how did the industry made a difference in their economic ecosystem. He also delves on the collaboration between the coworking spaces in the country and globally.  

What did the government recognize, in the beginning, is the value of coworking in Chile?


In Chile, ten years ago started the coworking movement, the main spaces in Chile, the government, not the actual one, the previous government in the actual stay with that recognize the need to develop regional economies.

New economies in all the country so they supported with the pride of business, the people like me, for instance, and many officials supported the establishment of coworking spaces so that’s was, that’s one reason, we started very very close with a public sector in the local region, local cities in Chile, not only in the big cities we have to coordinate spaces in the middle similarly like mine in Southern Chile in Patagonia. 

We have coordinate spaces in other isolated places and like I say Magallanes Southern Patagonia. We have coworking spaces but not only the space. It’s a global network, it’s a natural network with, with a natural pass to interchange the clients with the platform’s with events when, when we can stay together, we make events with friends of coworker movement from Latin America and Europe.

Of course and we are a evolve, focus, we are a developing new business in our, in our economy at the end of the war in Chile we really say globally.


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Bernie J Mitchel 0:03  

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this week’s edition of the European Coworking Assembly podcast, known globally as the Coworking Values Podcast. And every week we grab someone from around Europe and ask them about coworking. And, there’s this little thing called COVID happening and we talked a lot about that. And then we talked a lot about Black Lives Matter. And the topic that’s come up in all our people replying to our emails and things that, is about local coworking. So, if you’re one of the lucky people that receive our weekly newsletter, you can sign up for that on our website. We’ve put out requests to say, who knows anyone who does local coworking. And even though I specifically said Europe, Navarro sent us Marcelo from Chile, and he has a very, very interesting story. 

Željko Crnjaković 0:55  

So we went a little bit out of Europe for this episode.

Bernie J Mitchel 1:02  

I’m always happy to go to Latin America.

Željko Crnjaković 1:08  

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Bernie J Mitchel 1:42  

So just before we kick off and introduce our guest, what’s going on in Subotica?

Željko Crnjaković 1:47  

Oh, nothing much. Thank you for recognizing your co-host Bernie. So, you got used to, in these past few episodes, doing things alone. In self-isolation and stuff like that, but as you said, we went a little bit off beat from Europe this episode. And, here are some interesting stories, In other news, nothing else is happening, a little bit of COVID, a little bit of revolution, as it should be any – I’m not even going to say, Is it a first world, second world, third world country, I have no idea where we fall right now.

Bernie J Mitchel 2:27  

We’re all in it together, so my Prime Minister keeps telling us. So Marcelo, just tell us a little bit about what you’re known for in Chile, and what would you like to be known for in Chile?

Marcelo 2:43  

Thank you very much. Well, actually in Chile, I’m a National President of the Association of Coworking it’s called Chile Cowork. We are working to make sure that Chile can establish many companies from all over the world. In the main cities of the country, we have developed many mental networks, accelerators and coworking spaces. That’s the thing I want to see develop.

Bernie J Mitchel 3:21  

And, what are you always moving towards? Because you do a lot of things. What keeps you going?

Marcelo 3:28  

Well, we need to communicate to the world that Chile is still a stable country. So, it’s an open economy and actually in the pandemic times, we are making our process events in communication digital. Digitalization is the main thing. We are advancing coworking spaces in Chile.

Željko Crnjaković 4:06  

Let me chime in. You mentioned that coworking in Chile started initially about 10 years ago and if I recognize it’s how about most of the world got that tidal wave of coworking initial starts and about 10 years ago. So 2010, 2011, 2012 in that sense. What’s most interesting about that what you said before our recording started is that just from the very, very start, the government helped a lot. And I wanted to ask, why is that? What did they recognize in the beginning that was specifically coworking value for Chile?

Marcelo 4:56  

Thank you for the question. Chile started the coworking movement 10 years ago, the main spaces. So the government, the previous government recognized the need to develop regional economies – new economies in all the countries. So, they supported the private business people like me for instance, and many people supported the establishment of coworking spaces so that was the reason we started working very close with a public sector in local regions – local cities. In Chile, not only in the big cities do we have coworking spaces – in the little cities like mine in southern Chile, Patagonia, we have coworking spaces in other isolated places, like Magallanes in southern Patagonia. We have all the spaces, but not only the space, it’s a global network. It’s a national network with a national pass to interchange the clients with digital platforms with events where we can stay together, we make events with friends of coworking movement from Latin America and Europe of course, and we are a in the world focus. We are developing new business in our economy. At the end of war in Chile when we say globally and digital and that’s the difference. 

Željko Crnjaković  6:55  

What I understand from it, and correct me if I’m wrong, is as each coworking space funds itself and becomes a part of the network, it is founded because of the strength of the network? In other places like in Serbia or in England or whatever in Europe, coworking spaces pop up because of private or individuals who want to open up a coworking space, and once they get the wheels going they become a part of the network because there may be one. From what you’re saying that in Chile, somehow the network organizes and kind of works towards opening coworking spaces in local communities, in smaller cities as in bigger cities.

Marcelo  7:51  

Yeah. The coworking spaces were private founded first. It was founded local persons like me. I’m a businessman from Chile. I work, I don’t elevate myself.  It’s the everyday persons, not big investments, not international investment – but established by people like me for instance. That’s the main thing. That’s amazing because we have our hands on new business, new structure, and new phenomenon’s. And we communicate with other persons in the cities to know each other, to know the best practice and what things need to be resolved, and other things like that. And that’s the reason we established it – One Year Later, we met each other at national association. And in parallel, the government saw us and established our national application to support the rise, and the quicker process of development for coworking spaces. And that was the contest six, seven years ago and we applied. But the government  didn’t establish the coworking because when the public sector starts with something and continue to fund it.

Bernie J Mitchel  9:54  

I’ve missed you. I missed your questions Zeljko. And so, Marcelo, I’ve got so many things to ask. I’m going to go over this first, what was really interesting for the government to come and get involved with you? Why were they motivated to come and say hello we will come and support you?  What was in it for them? 

Marcelo  10:23  

That’s a very interesting thing, because in Chile, we don’t have high movement of people’s capitals and business. We are at the end of war I would say, Near Argentina, in southern Chile, for instance. I work in tourism too, and Chile has a high category of experienced tourists. A similar thing in business don’t have high disability in Chile So that’s the reason the government when this started 10 years ago, they were the first public accelerator in Latin America, They invested to attract capitals, minds and business in Chile. It was a similar reason behind the government supporting private owners of coworking spaces to attract experts, businessmen and business people from the world. There’s a reason we established networks with Marc Navarro for instance, with people from Brazil and that’s the main reason they believe in us. And we are developing our support for public efforts in each city of the country. We are part of a panel of judges for universities contest pages, public projects, and new integration with the students and the like. It’s not only business, it’s a reason to be in each city of the country. Each person we have in our association has a proposal with his own community.

Bernie J Mitchel  12:35  

Can you can you give some examples of how a coworking space contributes to the local community? And my question is, we’ve seen the reason for this series of podcasts we’re about to go on is that, people are going to stop traveling into cities. And that’s what people think will happen. So, this kind of rural, local coworking, and people staying in their local communities is what we hope will happen and what people smarter than us think will happen. So how does that coworking space help a city with like 100,000 people in it?

Marcelo  13:25  

Well, the main thing we do in each city is to change the mind; change the way to do business, to trust each other, to adopt new technology. Because we are very far away from other places on earth. We develop our mind, our education, our business people, and our politicians. Looking at ourselves in Chile, the business in Chile is to sell for my country or for my city only, not to attract talent and experts, not to connect with international networks. It’s just not natural for Chilean people. So, the main thing we adopt in our local ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship, it’s to say, hey, we made this, we know this person. So that’s not natural for the persons in a faraway country like Chile. That’s the main thing, we changed for that reason. We support our local ecosystems.

Željko Crnjaković  15:28  

Okay, when we talk about coworking spaces in not only the big cities, but also all around the country, who do you see as the users of those spaces? So who are the people that are mostly drawn to it? Are they entrepreneurs or is it a program that people need to sign up to get into the space and it’s sort of an incubator or is it start-ups? Is it IT or freelancers? Who are the people that use the coworking spaces?

Marcelo  16:03  

All of the above, because it depends on the city. It depends on the size of the coworking space, and depends on the company itself. So in Santiago for instance, we have finances and our association as our national station in the 25 cities of Chile. In Santiago, for instance, you have big companies that’s a contract and a big surface for many persons, people that work for a big company. At another company in Santiago They are local companies with a big support, with many employees, and are looking to reduce the cost. And to establish networks and maybe to find some new business. And I have for instance, in my own coworking space in Osorno, I have entrepreneurs who work for them for themselves. And then I have some companies with few people working, and others with small teams. And we are a developing and a mentor’s network and incubator in coworking in itself. And we have a project plan for two / three years, and many of our partners have a plan for three years to develop incubation and mentoring in our city. So those are the things we’re doing now. And then we’re hoping to make some new business for local people with other people from the coworking spaces of our network. Yeah, those are the things we’re doing.

Željko Crnjaković  18:23  

And how was coworking as a concept, received initially in smaller towns? I’m asking because we have experience in smaller communities, and I’m not saying too small, I’m not saying villages. I live in a town of 100,000 people, and even that is considered small and laggy, and then it’s an old population. And we had five years until we basically taught people what coworking is and what you can do, and whether it’s for you… How was it received by the smaller environment communities?

Marcelo  19:06  

It’s the same… I also have five or six years of operating and coworking in my city. Since this year, the other sectors from agricultural, construction, engineering, and farming now know what this is and are interested to ask what we do? How can we collaborate? That’s after five years, so it’s nothing different in our city. Now other sectors like agriculture and commercial sectors are interested in what we are doing currently? What did we do in the past years? What our plans are? Can we do something together? But this is after five years. The people need some time to trust, to know that it’s a serious establishment. It’s a process.

Bernie J Mitchel  20:28  

What is the most useful thing the government does in this partnership? And I asked that because Zeljko is doing this in Serbia, and I’m part of a group doing it in the UK, and there’s the German Coworking Federation, and Coworking Spain, as you know. So, what has the government done in Chile that’s really helped your coworking association grow and achieve everything it has achieved?

Marcelo  21:01  

Well, the government supported us with real funding to establish some new plans. For instance, to establish mental networks, to establish incubators in each city. And those are the things for which the money from government was useful. So this is a co-funding because we are private, we put money in that process, not only to sell coworking seats. And that’s the thing they are doing, and we’re hoping that in the future, these things will be a financed only with private funding. With only the economy, the real economy, I would say. But actually, for this process, these new things, they established some new sectors for the Chilean economy. And the main thing is that we are doing it privately, the public’s only trust and only co-funding but not managing the business. So, our national association of Chile Cowork, it’s a private organisation. We finance it ourselves. It’s not the public sector that established it. It’s a private organization. And the companies are private too. And we developed projects with a co-financed funding, but the companies of coworking are private and our association is private too.

Bernie J Mitchel  22:50  

One of my last questions is, because people always want to know this, does the activity of making a coworking space in a local area create jobs for the local area? Does it just create a nice feeling?

Marcelo  23:03  

It depends, because from the mining city in the north in Chile and for agricultural tourism cities in southern Chile for instance, we have some projects to develop new knowledge for local students for young persons to develop, for instance, a software code. In other places the coworking spaces support tourism training for instance. We donate classrooms, mentors and our resources in some places to do their activities. And we support new knowledge for our economies, For instance, I have a partner from the UK and we established a company in Chile, for the interpretation of heritage for the tourism sector. So, a little international company established in Osorno city with an international network. And that’s the reason, actually we are developing interpretive panels for archaeological sites in my city for instance, and these are innovation funding from the local radio, but it’s developed by my company with their international knowledge. And that happens in many cities of the country. We established, not only for us, because the other thing is to get knowledge and to make use of the services of others in our cities. Those are real things happening in our country through Chile Cowork for instance. New companies, new investors, new opportunities and new knowledge for our city, our persons and our communities.

Bernie J Mitchel  25:25  

We’re going to put links to all the Chile Cowork and stuff. It will help if you speak Spanish. Thank you for the insight into how it all works there. And is your town in Patagonia?

Marcelo  25:44  

Yes, yes. In front of Bariloche Argentina.

Bernie J Mitchel  25:51  

Because the next time we go to Argentina, we’re going to Patagonia and I shall come and I’ll make my family come too.

Marcelo  25:58  

You must come. You must cross to Chile.

Bernie J Mitchel  26:01  

I’m very excited. So is there anything you want to add before we go? Zeljko?

Željko Crnjaković  26:05  

No. I think we had quite a very interesting story and it’s a similar story but with a different spin with a lot more positive roots within how the whole community and even the government can help can see the benefits that coworking can bring to a town, or village, or country and the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Bernie J Mitchel  26:39  

So, ladies and gentlemen, if you zoom to, you can sign up for our weekly email newsletter and we always include a link to this podcast and all the blogs and stories that are coming up on there and sometimes a bit of opinion too. And we also are looking for stories around Europe or nice people like Marcelo, about local coworking. And you would have heard this at Coworking Europe, people talking about rural coworking. And that was a big topic in CCCSE in Belgrade last year. So we’re looking for independent coworking spaces doing great things in their local community to share and spread the stories and I hate this term but, best practice, and what’s really working for you, but also what are your questions about local coworking? What do you need to know to set up a space? One of the points of today’s podcast was to build a relationship with your local authority, or municipality, or government, because coworking is set to reboot the economy by people working together. And that’s what we’re aiming for. So get in touch either hit reply to the Coworking Europe newsletter when it arrives in your inbox, and then it’ll go to Jeanine and then me and Željko can sort out the good ones. And stay safe and be nice to each other.

Željko Crnjaković 28:02  

Thank you gentlemen. Talk to you in the next Coworking Europe, Coworking Values Podcast.

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