January 26, 2017
In September 2016, Chief Sharer of The People Who Share Benita Matofska and Social Photographer, Sophie Sheinwald, are launching an exciting book project called Generation Share. They’ll be crowdfunding the project which will involve travelling around the world interviewing and photographing the people for whom the Sharing Economy has become a way of life; the people that Benita calls Generation Share. This is the first in a series of blogs from Sharing Economy expert, Benita Matofska on Generation Share.
Who is Sharing? The People Driving the Sharing Economy
By Benita Matofska
I coined the term ‘Generation Share’ back in 2011 when the Sharing Economy was just 3 years old. Much has happened in the sector in the last 5 years; we’ve seen start-up whippersnappers disrupt behemoths then become them; we’ve witnessed jobs-for-life and the 9-to-5 replaced by gigs-for-love and co-working.
But one thing has never changed. This is a ‘people’s economy’ and it’s the people (the sharers) who are doing the sharing. In the beginning, the people creating the Sharing Economy and driving it (some quite literally) were millennials, most aged 25-34, middle class, educated, looking for experiences, adventure and a desire to belong. I called them ‘Generation Share’, a global peer group, connected via technology, united by sharing resources and driven by possibility.
Research showed that of the world’s 2.68 billion millennials, 73% saw the Sharing Economy as important to them1, preferring to access rather than own goods. With most sharers having a degree or other qualifications and earning over $100,0002 a year, the Sharing Economy, it seemed, was a young thing, an educated thing and most certainly, a middle-class thing.
Fast forward to 2016 and ‘Generation Share’ has grown well beyond its early, hip, millennial adopters. Now over 28% of the global adult population are participating, with 25% of Sharing Economy service providers being over 553. Participation rates of over 55s on some sharing sites has grown over 375% in the last year4 and adults aged 55-64 choosing renting, sharing and swapping over ownership has grown 80% in the last 12 years5. Millennials, may still form the largest group of sharers, but the Sharing Economy has certainly spread outside of it’s earlier demographic leanings.
What we know now, is that ‘Generation Share’ goes beyond age and increasingly, beyond economic background too. Rent, borrow, swap, exchange – these are the activities that epitomise this generation – and they’re all forms of sharing or accessing shared resources.
In this Sharing Economy era, you’re defined by what and how you share, sharing has become a lifestyle, a mind-set and increasingly, ‘Generation Share’ are changing the world as we know it.
We are witnessing the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution; the people who share are those who know that access is more important than ownership, and that accumulating products that don’t get used and break is pointless, yes, but they know something much more powerful; they know that life is about meaning, about being connected, about belonging… above all, it’s about sharing. It’s about, Generation Share.
1 American Planning Association, 2014
2 Crowd Companies, 2014
3 PwC, 2015
5 Harvard University, 2015
Generation Share in Portugal by Benita Matofska
In 2013, I was invited to speak about the Sharing Economy at Greenfest in Portugal. Back then, the term was little known in the country and my trip served to sew the seeds of what has now become a thriving sector. In the audience at Greenfest 2013 was a sustainability consultant and environmental activist, Candida Rato. Inspired by my talk, she decided to launch The People Who Share in Portugal and build the Sharing Economy network. Candida took the seed that I planted and grew it into a garden.
Fast-forward to 2016 and the Sharing Economy in Portugal is fast becoming a forest. There are now over 400 Sharing Economy projects, aps and platforms across the country, from co-working spaces like Village Underground Lisboa, to food sharing projects such as Ugly Fruit.
Lisbon’s Mayor Fernando Medina is a big advocate and property owners can rent out spare spaces for an unlimited number of nights, compared to the Sharing Economy-friendly UK which has a 90 night per year limit and ‘sharing city’ Amsterdam which has a 60 day limit.
On November 3rd, I headed out to Portugal with photographer Sophie Sheinwald, for the first stop on our project: Generation Share. For Generation Share, we’ll be travelling the world, meeting and documenting the people behind the Sharing Economy.
We journeyed to Lisbon courtesy of super sharers Organii who, in exchange for me speaking at their Organii Eco-Market event, supported our trip and made it possible (big sharing thanks to Filipa and Catia). The Organii Eco-Market brought together 10,000 people and partners from all over Portugal and further afield to share ideas, eco-goods, knowledge, skills and the wonderful Repair Café.
Our book, Generation Share which we hope to crowdfund and self-publish at the end of 2017 will be made entirely through sharing. We borrowed audio equipment (thanks to Will Waghorn) so we could film and record interviews with sharers across the world. Our home for 4 days was the LxFactory – a former abandoned textiles factory and printing press that has been completely regenerated and now is Lisbon’s centre for the Sharing Economy. The Sharing Economy and the LxFactory thrive thanks to government policies include phasing out rent controls, and selling hundreds of empty properties at auctions helping to transform Lisbon into a super sharing city.
The LxFactory area makes use of previously discarded materials, buildings and transport, transforming them into to co-working spaces, art installations, independent restaurants, café’s, galleries and artisan shops.
We stayed in the LxFactory’s shared accommodation called The Dorm where we met Georgia who runs the place – a wonderful sharer; Australian-born Georgia is a world traveler who shares, swaps and exchanges every day. Simon, Kiko and Pedro run Simon Says – who offer visitors local tours and shared experiences and believe sharing can change the world. Maria Ines Nunes is a passionate sharer who has embedded sharing into many aspects of her life – from sharing her time teaching children in Malawi, to swapping gymnastic lessons for Portuguese classes!
Here’s a short vlog of Generation Share Portugal created by Sophie to bring you the people who share in Portugal, offering a taste of how the country is embracing the Sharing Economy and indeed a taste of our book to come -- Generation Share.
If you’d like to be included in our project Generation Share, please email us and let us know what sharing means to you, where in the world you are and why you’d like to be part of it.