Female entrepreneurs turn their dream into a successful social business
12 years ago, two women dreamt of being able to help female entrepreneurs, mothers, and women in general to grow their impact in the labor market, recognizing their value and strength. With the approach “the more you give, the more you get”, they founded the social business Loffice that is now running several coworking spaces in Budapest and Vienna.
In 2009, Kata and Panni Klementz, the two sisters and female founders behind Loffice, opened their first office in the centre of Budapest, offering coworking stations on 6 floors as well as meeting and event spaces. We spoke with the two social entrepreneurs about the idea behind their social business, their successes and aspirations as well as their personal advice to fellow female entrepreneurs.
How does Loffice support female working professionals and mothers?
Kata: We established the Loffice Coworkid Foundation with the aim to provide development opportunities and align career goals of parents, mostly mothers, with the needs of corporate employers. We help parents to return to the labor market after maternity leave by inspiring them to discover new competencies born out of parenthood and to make use of them at work too.
Panni: Our free online and offline workshops are organized around the pillars “job search”, “recruitment and career guidance” as well as “entrepreneurship”. The focus lays thereby on topics such as finance, legal issues, marketing or business management know-how. In these workshops, we not only prepare parents for starting their own business and provide them with practical skills, but also offer a platform, where they can grow their network.
What were your biggest successes so far?
Kata: Expanding our locations not only in Budapest, but also to Vienna in 2011, while at the same time being able to support more and more women, was already a great success for us. This was all possible thanks to a supportive and open-minded community. But we are especially proud, that we managed to open our new HQ in the midst of a global pandemic. No one thought two years ago that we would open the doors to our new office in a situation, where everyone else would close them. Also, we are very happy about the several awards, such as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Design Office of the Year, Best Coworking Space or Green Building we’ve won since starting our business 12 years ago.
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?
Panni: Finding and then keeping a work-life balance can be quite challenging. This is especially true if you have children and need to juggle everything at the same time. We encourage all working moms and women to prioritize according to their ‘inner voice’ and try to organize their work and family lives according to it. Nobody needs to be superwoman. Accepting help and support is not a weakness at all – whether it’s help around the household, with the children, or the trust of well-educated colleagues.
Kata: Often all you have to do is go for it: believe in yourself and your ideas and gather a reliable team around you. Doing business can be though, so it’s not easy for neither women nor men to succeed in this field. We need to be consistent, persistent and flexible and always have a good accountant and a legal expert around. It’s good, if you have a plan and don’t leave anything to chance, but most importantly: don’t be afraid. Brace yourself with strength, inspiration and motivation from others’ success and best practices.
How do you feel about working together with Erste Social Banking?
Kata: All the financial and educational support that Erste Social Banking provides to NGOs and organizations with a social impact is very exemplary. It’s always a pleasure to see when such a big organization doesn’t forget about the little ones. In addition, Erste always supports initiatives that reduce inequalities and help improve the lives of those in need.
What are your future plans for Loffice?
Panni: We are currently working on offering additional business services that are not tied to a physical space, but still in line with our core values. We want to offer new workspace solutions and put more emphasis on B2B services by sharing our knowledge about designing flexible and agile workspaces as well as helping companies to adjust their office spaces to post-pandemic needs. We hope that once the pandemic subsides, we can organize face-to-face events again and thereby expand our community, which will also help us to increase our social impact on more and more women in it.