Yesterday at 'Dit is pas Amsterdam' at Pakhuis de Zwijger we spoke about how to encourage an inclusive growth of the sharing economy, thus how to provide access to all goods and services through the sharing economy for people who could benefit the most. 

In Amsterdam (the Netherlands) more than 180.000 people are supported by social security and welfare (almost 1 out of 5 people). Though, they are not the ones who are taking most advantage of the opportunities the sharing economy brings. The local government is looking into how to address this issue by enabling access to sharing platforms with the local city pass. 

What I particularly liked was that the people who we were talking about were actually also present in the room, and participated in the discussion. Usually when I go to these kinds of events, the actual target group itself is not present. This made the conversation yesterday a lot more valuable and I believe in a short time we had already listed some great points we can use in further steps to take.

In the first place people should be aware of what the opportunities are, and have easy access to the right information they need for participation on sharing platforms. The government should look also into whether the existing regulation should be adapted in order to activate people instead of reprimanding them for small scale actions through platforms. This is not an easy task. I believe we should look into partnerships, involving 'experience experts' and start with small local experiments to find out in practice where the actual thresholds and, or opportunities are. One way is probably very obvious, yet often overlooked: talk to the people themselves, and truly listen to what they have to say. Invite people to take part in co-creation sessions where they can express themselves and share their daily life experiences. One of the tools we use for such sessions is the Sharing City Game; which we created to bring together all the different actors in a city or neighborhood to come to joint solutions; read more about the Sharing City Game HERE.

In order to be truly inclusive, and involve those who would benefit the most, the first step for now could be first adapting the way platforms, the municipality and other organizations want to reach and engage this group of people. It's important that they are involved in the process and not be studied upon or talked about, let them come with suggestions and solutions so that the outcome will be supported by the community they live in, instead of enforcing ideas which will not be adopted. Other things that could help spreading the sharing economy amongst those who are not yet familiar with it, are physical sharing or informations points in the neighborhood, success stories from people they know, ambassadors and connectors will be necessary for people to start gaining trust in these new and online ways of connecting, and sharing.

We talked about much more things, and we will be discussing this topic a lot more in the months to come. Inclusion, poverty reduction and resilient communities will be my focus within the sharing economy, to develop the field to its full maturity. I also invite you to take part in this discussion, and work together towards an inclusive Sharing City, since this is where we ultimately strive for at shareNL.

Our vision: "We believe in a world where everyone has access to all products and services, necessary for a connected, prosperous, sustainable and happy life."

By Samantha van den Bos