Stay on the lookout for Eastside Collaborative, said Maleika Robinson.
Recognizing a need for a coworking space specifically for black entrepreneurs, Robinson founded Eastside Collaborative in early 2018 after rebranding the KC Black Coworking Community.
Eastside operates from within Uzazi Village on Tuesdays and creates an environment where she and others can be their authentic selves, Robinson said.
The coworking model is in tune with the communal culture of the black community, said Robinson, who became interested in the idea after leaving 14 years in corporate America.
Throughout her previous career, Robinson dealt with microaggressions and, “mastering the art of being exceptional, but not intimidating,” she said.
Robinson also wanted to work around people who looked like her, she added.
While still the KC Black Coworking Community, the early stages of the organization operated out of coffee shops and other coworking spaces. Eastside’s current home in Uzazi Village is only temporary, she said, as Robinson looks forward to finding a more standalone space with the full coworking amenities.
“The goal is of growing the community, making sure that people understand this is a place for them,” said the founder.
The Eastside logo, as well as representing independence and faith, depicts a sankofa, which is symbolised by a bird with its head pointed backward to reach for an egg on its back. Sankofa is a Ghana word for “go back and get it,” said Robinson.
“It represents the idea of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present for positive progress,” she said. “I chose this logo because I feel like the idea of coworking and Eastside Collaborative is focused on the concept of cooperative economics … all of those things are traditional to the black community, but now we’re applying them to an entrepreneurial sense.”
There is a huge desire to be connected to community in the black entrepreneur world, said Robinson. At Eastside, culturally relevant workshops are organized by different entrepreneurs on subjects like networking, self-care and branding, to deepen the community and spark conversation, she said.
“Many of us are less affiliated. We might not live in the same city as our family, we might not have been a part of a Greek letter organization, we might not belong to a church, but there’s a huge desire to be connected, to be part of a community,” said Robinson. “Right now, I think that people just don’t know that Eastside Collaborative exists. I want Eastside Collaborative to be that place where people can find the connection they’re looking for.”