By Clare Kandola
We are at a time where we see a reinvention of our society. It seems as if we are on the brink of collapse of an old world order - hurtling towards a Brexit we do not yet fully understand, Steve Bannon has turned his attention to promoting far right and populist politicians across Europe, fake news dominates our screens with the result that no-one quite knows what is what and claims of false information are used to rebut anything the rich and powerful don't like.
Meanwhile, we see young people turning away from social media, relying on word of mouth trust, rejecting consumerist behaviour and adopting new ways of working, living and cooperating as communities. It's as if the death knell of the old guard is ringing.
Given where we are in the world, what is the role for the Sharing Economy in this world of change? The origins of the Sharing Economy can be traced back ten years to the first signs of collapse of the Twentieth Century system. From the ashes of the Financial Collapse of 2008, was born a movement that refocused our attention on what could be done with existing resources (rather than demanding more of our planet), that brought people together to contribute to each other (rather than give to a profit hungry corporation), and where community replaced brands as the signifier of trust.
The Sharing Economy showed a way for society (and business) to reclaim its soul.
But what fast became the biggest business trend of all time showed signs of becoming just another trend, out manoeuvred by platform giants and digital investors looking for the next big thing, with media coverage and analyst reports highlighting market cap, routes to profitability and brands to watch.
Yet all this missed the point, and missed that the REAL Sharing Economy was happening outside of this reinterpretation of a traditional capitalist economy.
The Sharing Economy is about how people interact in a way that fulfils even the weakest in our community, it's how we can create new ways of working that suit people as much as business, how to ensure there is plenty without demanding more - the Sharing Economy finds solutions to old problems, offers hope for the disenfranchised, supports dying towns evolving into vibrant, smart cities, and brings together communities to form healthy societies.
Whilst it may feel that we are nearing the end, we're actually embarking on a new beginning, a new world order that will see the young, the innovative and the resourceful take a front seat in this journey into the future. Exactly who will engineer this future for the better is yet to be seen, but be sure that the Sharing Economy and its principles of trust, community and sharing will be at heart of a future that both survives and thrives.
Join us on September 25th for our Autumn Sharing Economy Meetup which will provide an opportunity to look at who exactly the future belongs to, who are its architects and what it will look like, and what is the Sharing Economy's role in building a brighter, better future - what are the things that the Sharing Economy can do to support this evolution, and how do we go about it?