The first co-working space exclusively for women was launched in Malaysia this week with the aim of creating a safe working environment for women, especially for mothers with young children. Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said the unique concept at HelloHERA Hub fits into employment that is shifting towards becoming gig-based and more flexible. “There will be many mothers who will want to use their skills to work and at the same time look after their kids. “For many of them who would prefer not working from home, this will be an ideal space,” she said after the launch of the hub in Kuala Lumpur Thursday. Yeoh added that the women-only co-working space would provide a conducive and safe place for women in general, especially in the wake of greater public awareness of sexual harassment.

Founder Angie Chin said women could walk in to use the co-working space, Chin and they can bring with them up to two children. There is no age restriction for the children, she said, though it would be preferable if they were above five years of age. Users will be charged RM15 per hour or RM27 for the whole day, while weekly and monthly rates are RM196 and RM460 respectively. The current workspace comprises ten desks against the wall, two large common area tables and a mini lounge area with cushioned seats. All in all, Chin believes the space can hold up to 40 people.

Although HelloHERA positions itself as the first women’s workspace in Malaysia, it also opens its doors to men and non-binary individuals. “We are inclusive to both men coming to work or having meetings and non-binary individuals as they too deserve a space to work from.” She explains: “Men are welcome if they are part of a startup group or company that comes in for discussions. We really can’t remove men from the ecosystem if they are important to certain projects. However, exclusivity is still for women.”

As for the rationale behind HelloHERA Hub, Chin says, “We are actually trying to fill in the gap in the market to cater towards women’s events and activities that men do not find interesting such as women’s health talks, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) classes and image workshops.” While HelloHERA Hub is starting small, Chin’s vision is to slowly expand with time to include a nursery or children’s room, a larger event space and even a makerspace for DIY projects. She believes the space will serve a purpose that mass coworking spaces do not meet. “Women need privacy and sisterhood support as the entrepreneurship journey can be tough and lonely.”