Intimidating as the title to this blog might seem, I’m willing to bet that you have already, on many occasions, unknowingly experienced this ‘new’ phenomenon, The Sharing Economy. I first heard about ‘the sharing economy’ at a TEDx convention I recently attended held in Kampala (TEDxKampala).
This was in a presentation by Raymond Besiga, a software developer. In his appearance, Raymond told (us) of a trip he made to Holland, where he stayed in the house of some chic whom he had never met. He spent 2 or 3 weeks (don’t really remember) in her house, eating her food, drinking her wine (I think) and using her warm water and electricity. I, also, think he even enjoyed some small talk with her neighbours and afterwards left. Isn’t that cool? Being able to go and stay at a stranger’s house and enjoy their cool apartment and then leave? For free!
See, ^THAT^, is called ‘sharing’. And as you already know, sharing is caring. When you add ‘economy’ (which is; the efficient use of resources) to, it would mean chic X (sorry, I forgot her name) was using her resources efficiently. Understand that she was not staying in the apartment by the time Raymond stayed there. She was out of town and he needed a place to stay. It also means Raymond had to pay her some money to use her apartment, in her absence, as a lodge to make it a trade in the economy.
This particular trade, in my own terms, is what I would like to call ‘space sharing.’ Already there are two popular websites (CouchSurfing and Airbnb.) I know of that accommodate space sharing as their M.O. Not too long ago, I, as well, used to host couch surfers. It was a great experience, meeting new people from different backgrounds and cultures. My couch had a mattress, food, water and company at a price of $8 per day. It was fun to have strangers become friends and being able to share my small space with people who can’t afford hotels or can but prefer to stay with people and learn more about them. But I had to stop after a bad experience. Let’s call it a fire, and leave it at that. Though coming back to Raymond’s talk; he believes that sharing can be a sustainable economy that can build a community and a country. And I agree! This kind of trade is easy to do and manage plus the experience is life changing.
Anyway, that is only one of the varieties of forms of the sharing economy. The other one is crowd funding. This, here, is the kind of business module where people have to believe in you and your cause/business project, to give you their hard earned money for you to prosper. A dear friend, sister and mentor of mine, Evelyn Namara, used crowd funding, which I will call the giving-trade-to-get-funds-plan, which helped her raise finances through a collaborative effort for herself go for a fellowship in India. Evelyn is an active advocate for women’s empowerment, who strongly believes in even the littlest of women’s start-up businesses; and she absolutely loves women in technology. I could never have asked for a better mentor. Many people like ‘moi’ believe in her and we were willing to give her what we could as you will see here. She is, now, settled in, learning and enjoying the place.
Everyone says sharing is caring, I say sharing is investing. It is investing in someone’s dream, ideas and hopes. We are a people who care about each other, I believe. I, also, believe that we can invest in each other for the purpose of development, furthering ourselves and lives.
In the same spirit of sharing, Raymond created a website called Akabbo, which is a crowd funding platform that aims at making sharing an economy through fundraising. Akabbo, means ‘the basket’ in the larger parts of Uganda; which basket is commonly used to collect money among crowds at ceremonies. It is now used as a Uglish word for fundraising. The ‘basket’ approach can be (or has been) seen at churches fundraising for the construction or completion of the church. Another example of where the basket approach is used today is during wedding meetings.
So the sharing economy is not a far-fetched concept, after all. We have all been doing it, without looking at the possibility of it as a suitable economy. You have been crushing at your friend’s house and buying food there, paying some bills as you sort yourself out, you have shared a dollar or two even more to projects that needed money to kick off, to wedding, to hospitals, to charity, to I don’t know what… phone fundraising!! This all can be turned in to a profitable economy. There are other shareable ways out there that we can all look into and see if they can be sustainable sections of the sharing economy.
For now, however, this is as far as I can go without giving away too much of this new economy movement, that I believe we should all (actively and knowingly) be a part of.
Please share with me your thoughts on the Sharing Economy and what else you think can be added to it. To a sharing economy!!! Thanks.