Collaborative Consumption’s Potential for the Big Issues

Here we are at our fifth and final blog in the lead up to our Distinguished Speaker Series event next Wednesday October 7.

After everything we’ve looked at regarding the collaborative economy we found ourselves asking; what about the big, systemic global issues we look at in the GLP? What potential does Collaborative Consumption have to address these?

The global refugee crisis has been on everyone’s lips of late and the plight of asylum seekers is one of the key contemporary, global issues GLP attempts to shine a critical and engaging light on. We already know that Germany has been setting a compassionate example for the world’s developed nations with their recent open-arms approach to refugees, but have you heard about the German group which “matchmakes citizens willing to share their homes with refugees”?

airbnb germany

Jonas Kakoschke (right) and Bakary Conan chat at Kakoschke’s flat in Berlin. Kakoschke gave shelter to Conan with his initiative Refugees Welcome, which has now placed 26 refugees in private homes. Photograph: Olga Syrova/AP.

The Refugees Welcome web platform based in Berlin has over 780 Germans signed up and offering accommodation to refugees arriving in Germany from all over the world. The Guardian article ‘Airbnb for refugees’ group overwhelmed by offers of help’  said that among those who have responded to the German site have been “PR consultants, carpenters and many students, spanning a large age range from 21 to 65. Most are people living in flatshares, the group said, but offers have also come from married couples and single mothers.” In other words, people from all social strata and age groups.

mine yours ours

Our speaker, Rachel Botsman has observed how the collaborative economy and sharing through technology has empowered people in ways that were previously inconceivable:  “… my core driver is how [collaborative consumption] empowers people. It empowers people to tap into skills and talent that they have – but haven’t found opportunities to make money from before. It empowers people to be in control of their jobs and their lives. It empowers people to make new kinds of connections that are often quite tricky to make.”

One of the many benefits of the sharing economy has been the way it’s utilised technology to harness untapped value or ‘idling capacity’ to address social needs. Microfinance organisations such as Kiva are a great example of this; using technology to connect average individuals in the developed world who have access to small amounts of disposable income with entrepreneurs in developing nations who have the skills and ideas for income generation and socially beneficial practices in their communities, but do not have access to the financial support that entrepreneurs in the developed world might have because they are financially excluded, or not considered ‘credit-worthy’.

Rachel Botsman Quote.

April Rinne’s article in the Huffington Post looked at ‘What Collaborative Consumption and the Sharing Economy Can Learn From Microfinance’ and teased out the key similarities across these two contemporary, disruptive innovations which can (and have) made significant contributions to affecting systemic poverty and disenfranchisement. Some of the touch points included Empowerment; Trust, Reputation and Social Collateral; and The Importance of an Effective Enabling Environment – all of which we have covered previously in our blogs on the sharing economy.

Both centre around the empowerment of individuals, the creation of a new type of social fabric made possible by technological innovation and both require people to first ask themselves the question; how can I trust strangers? – and then rationalise that most risks are simply perceived as opposed to fact, and are on-par with other daily decisions we make to trust strangers, such as the barista making your coffee or the bus driver who takes your kids to school.

We imagine enormous potential for the collaborative economy to address some of our greatest systemic issues, even if in the smallest and most local of ways, and we hope Rachel Botsman can give us a sneak peek into how she sees that already evolving.

Rachel Botsman Cartoon courtesy of Gavin Blake form the Wired for Wonder event.

Rachel Botsman Cartoon courtesy of Gavin Blake from the Wired for Wonder event.

But don’t just trust this cartoon, despite how cleverly it’s mapped Rachel’s system of ‘trust between strangers’. Because our keynote speaker will be addressing us all live in less than a week and she’ll be sharing insights with us that you won’t get from Google. We’ll hear insights from her personal journey and how she came to be an expert in the collaborative economy. We’ll get to hear how she’s seen the movement evolve, and where she thinks it’s headed. She will give us a behind-the-scenes snap shot of the start-ups and collaborative models we’ve been discussing with a particular emphasis on the people and the entrepreneurs behind them, and she will discuss the specific challenges for new forms of leadership in this space – leaving us with a picture of the key principles she has witnessed these successful leaders use, and share between them, and the way “they see the world” that other leaders don’t. Don’t miss out!

Chloë Spackman, GLP Manager

Previously, on the GLP Blog…….

Make sure you’ve marked the evening of Wednesday October 7th in your diary so you do not miss GLP’s 2015 Distinguished Speaker, Rachel Botsman, inspire you with her vision for Collaborative Consumption. Not only is the event compulsory, but it will be of great benefit to your development as a Global Leader. You have been automatically enrolled in this event on Thrive. Please refer to your emails for further information as sent out by GLP staff.


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