Art Culture Society / Innovation

Simmering of subtle change: AntiCafé of conviviality

Europe is going through a tough time, a lot of questions which were never asked are being asked. But when the euro-zone is becoming suspect, the deficit is expanding, the social disaffection with politicians is increasing, the debate is becoming more intense. The unemployment rate in the South has gone up to 30-40 per cent and among youth up to 60 per cent. Some already fear revival of fascism.  Imagine if a wave of rightists’ upheavals begins, it will not stop on one side of the Atlantic Ocean. At such moment, search for frugal solutions is inevitable. That’s why interactions with companies (very large and small), economists, students, trade unionists  and entrepreneurs are so meaningful.

The AntiCafé

Let me begin with a young entrepreneur who has started a venture two months ago, called the AntiCafé (79, Rue Quincampoix, 75003, Paris). There is no charge for coffee, snacks, soft drinks, salads or anything to eat or drink. All is on house. You only pay for time, four Euro for the first hour and then two euro for every additional hour. Food and drinks continue to be free all through. Free high speed wifi is also on the house and there is a projector just in case u wish to make a presentation to your invitees.


What more could a start up entrepreneur ask. The anticafé provides excellent sitting place, small cubicles, rooms for your executive meetings and comfortable sofas for lazying around, if you wish to and unlimited rounds of tea/coffee and eats. When times are tough, the conviviality thrives.

anticafe paris

There are many directions in which this idea could grow:

a) the social capital of each start up may include redundant links (or what is also called as structural holes, that is untied links, which are unrelated to her current enterprise and thus unlikely to be drawn upon) which can add a lot of value to someone else looking for precisely that skill or resource. Periodic exchanges of such untied links may unleash a lot of creative energy of the group. AntiCafé may organise untied-Fridays on which untied links are talked about by everyone;

b) the social innovators may have ideas which they have no use for but would not mind someone else to take forward. There could be a kite flying day when any one can cut kite of anyone else and all is part of deliberate sport. Who knows in whose hands which idea grows the farthest? Till Hiranmay came on the scene, was just a dream, lying hibernated for almost seven years. If I had not shared the idea, it would still be lying there like many other ideas of mine; and

c) whenever anyone makes it big, one should endow a small fund at the anticafé so that it may eventually start investing as a small micro-venture innovation fund. It may meet the needs of a fund which helps you out when u otherwise would miss your meal or would have to walk instead of taking a taxi for a meeting and then getting dejected because you could not make it to the meeting on time. Small bit by bit debts you borrow for specific activities accumulate. But till the picture falls into place, these debts hold the lifeline for a small startup entrepreneur.

Camille, who fixed a meeting with me at Paris’ AntiCafé enriching my life in the process, shared the vision of TLHUB  –a translation collective. Most translators don’t get an opportunity to work together or get feedback on each other’s work or contribute to the enrichment of global connectivity in literature through collaborative translation for commercial or non commercial purposes. My interest was to explore whether we could make a pitch to a translator community including students in schools and colleges to translate our Honey Bee Network database.

To be continued …


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