On any given day, you can log on your computer and browse on your social media platforms and notice how one of your contacts is organising a crowdfunding campaign to finance one of his many media projects. Another friend just posted a picture of the food she ordered online, via a mobile app that specializes in delivery service.
While you’re browsing on your mobile, one of your siblings has ordered a transport service (not a cab, though), and has his eyes fixated on his phone and he observes a tiny animation of a car move around a map - all in real time. Finally, you’re expecting a visitor to your place: not a friend or acquaintance, but a person who found out online that you were renting one of the rooms in the house.
If you could think of a specific name to each of the services described, then you have most probably used one, two or all of the platforms mentioned. These platforms form part of a collaborative economy, an economic model based on sharing services and resources within a community.
This need to connect sets a fertile ground for collaborative or sharing economy initiatives. Why? Because strengthening the relationships between businesses helps strengthen the businesses themselves. So, with that said, ¿what is a collaborative economy and how can Costa Rican local business benefit from it?
What Collaborative Economy Is All About
The concept itself is pretty straightforward: people get what they need from each other, instead of resorting to large organisations. Well, that’s how Forbes puts it. But then, someone like Georgios Petropoulos, an economist from the University of Bruegel, insists that the collaborative economy is “the economy in which consumers grant other consumers temporary access to under-utilised assets (possibly for money).”
Small businesses like Sibú Chocolate employ women and young people, and provide a source of income for many families in small or rural communities.
Technology is fundamental within a sharing economy. For example, if a group of farmers have ended up with surplus produce because they are no longer selling to their usual customers, sending a message via social media to notify other possible consumers is a good way of ensuring that the product won’t go to waste.
What Is Local Keeps Doing About It
Local Keeps works with dozens of local Costa Rican artisans and entrepreneurs who’ve invested years of hard work into their projects. We believe that products made with care make a difference in the world; a difference to whomever buys them and who sells them. Also, small business provides work within a community and further collaborates to the livelihood and progress of dozens of families.
On April 3rd, we held a virtual workshop with a very straight-forward objective: to provide makers with alternative solutions to the current crisis. Besides explaining what collaborative economy was all about, our proposal was to establish a platform where makers could share their resources.
Online workshops are a good way to come up with solutions, as a community.
For example, if an artisan is not using half of a studio space and is willing to provide it free of cost, and another artist has recently lost theirs - sharing the working space is a good solution to maintain both businesses afloat. Or connecting a baker in need of some help in promotion with a graphic designer who has spare hours to do some advertising work.
The idea with a sharing economy is to target the specific needs from each maker and cover them as a community. This not only signifies new sources of income, but also ensures the survival of the many businesses. Also, as blogger Katherine Stanley puts it, it’s a way of showing Costa Rican entrepreneurships some support.
Does It Work on the Long Run?
Short answer: yes. Sharing economy is particularly useful in this current scenario, but it also brings many benefits for consumers and for the economy as a whole. Why? First, it helps put to use any materials or assets that are currently under-utilized. Sharing or renting working space is a good example of this.
At Local Keeps, you may find online what’s available in many Costa Rican local markets.
But it is not just a matter of making a more efficient use of existing resources. In a collaborative economy, people are able to communicate directly with each other and establish stronger bonds between businesses and consumers. As networks become stronger, it becomes harder for entrepreneurships to collapse.
There is still plenty of research to do on this subject, but there is one aspect that remains true: it is easier to withstand hard situations when people collaborate and communicate with each other.You can find a wide assortment of local and artisanal products at Local Keeps. Navigate our categories or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!