Social entrepreneur, keynote speaker and advocate of the Sharing Economy, Benita Matofska is a leader of the future. The founder of The People Who Share, a global sharing campaign which aims to build a future of people exchanging their goods and services, Benita is a pioneer of social entrepreneurialism, and is well placed to outline her innovative ideas in a keynote speech. We caught up with her to find out a bit more about how the Sharing Economy fits in with the modern world, how Benita personally shares her resources, and what is next for her.
Q: How did you get into corporate speaking?
Benita: I've always been a speaker - my mother says I was born speaking in public! From school debating societies, to being President of my youth group, speaking to a crowd is something I've always loved and excelled at. In 2010, as part of my role as Head of Global Entrepreneurship at Enterprise UK, I had the amazing honour to share a platform with Desmond Tutu - I was inspired to set up a movement to build a Sharing Economy called The People Who Share.
Since then, keen to share the magic, I've spoken locally, nationally and internationally on the Sharing Economy. From Number 10 Downing Street, the House of Commons, to Le Web, Sustainable Brands, the RSA, Global Entrepreneurship Congress, European Marketing Summit, TEDx, to the Hague, European Commission, IKEA Global Furnishings Forum, PwC, NCVO Conference, the Guardian Media Summit to the RCA, Ogilvy Lab Day and the House of Lords (to name but a few) -- the response is always the same -- that I'm inspiring, engaging and I help people to see things very differently. Once you’ve met me, I’m hard to forget!
Benita has spoken at Number 10 Downing Street
Q: You are a strong advocate of the sharing economy - how can big businesses who are used to reaping the rewards of their individual successes learn how to share?
Benita: Business is changing. Now that people can trade peer-to-peer, they are no longer reliant on large corporations or big brands for their products and services. People can, at once, be the suppliers, consumers, and co-creators of products and services that are accessible when they need them and at a price they can afford. Most importantly for big business is the fact that people want products and services that enable and engage the crowd, providing them with an experience. The businesses of the future are those who are able to find ways to engage in the Sharing Economy (to continue to attract customers) and build smarter business models around shared resources.
Recent research shows that businesses who adopt sharing and collaborative models can double their profits within the first year. The Sharing Economy is a market that is growing faster than Facebook, Google and Yahoo combined, valued by PwC in the UK alone at £7 billion and €28 billion across Europe; it is predicted to grow 20 times this by 2025.
The Sharing Economy is generating huge profits across the Globe
PwC only looked at 5 verticals of the Sharing Economy in their research. I have mapped 22 verticals in a Global Share Guide with over 9,000 businesses and sharing initiatives listed globally. It’s important to understand that the ‘sharing’ in the Sharing Economy does not mean it is free – it refers to accessing a shared resource e.g. a room, a ride etc. Renting, borrowing, lending, exchanging, swapping – is all a form of sharing and hence part of the Sharing Economy. Businesses can no longer ignore this significant trend which is driven by consumers, with 28% of the global adult population already participating - a proportion predicted to double within the next year.
Businesses who failed to act on the sharing trend include Kodak and others who stuck to traditional models and didn't survive. For forward thinking businesses, the Sharing Economy is a huge opportunity to future-proof their companies and to become significantly more profitable with benefits to people as well as the planet.
Q: What acts do you consciously complete each day to ensure you are sharing what you have?
Benita: I'm a sharing evangelist so I share everything - literally - from food (I use apps like Olio and support FareShare) to clothes (I attend a regular monthly swap in Brighton) to sharing our very old car with other families. I share knowledge every day via social media or mentoring; I'm part of a peer-to-peer social enterprise group where we share insights and experiences; I organise potluck dinners, Share Tables, wherever I speak (where people bring items they no longer need and can find items they do need); I organise a street party on my street for Global Sharing Week; I share my dog Buster (he loves being walked by different people); I share childcare with other parents when needed (though my kids are growing up!); I share books via sites like readitswapit; I share my old clothes with charity shops; I support a local homeless person called Darren - I buy him a meal each week; I share tools and other household items with my neighbours; I sometimes work from a co-working space; when I travel it's all via the Sharing Economy -- house swaps / peer-to-peer rentals; I do skills swaps. There's very little I wouldn't share -- my husband for one!
Benita shares everything from food to clothes
Q: You speak about the trend of sharing resources moving faster in the 21st century - is there currently a digital platform which people can use to engage in the sharing economy?
Benita: The People Who Share is a social enterprise and platform where people can discover the Sharing Economy. We have a global Share Guide listing over 9,000 Sharing Economy businesses and initiatives around the world. We also have The Share Collection where people can find all sorts of sharing services to transform their everyday lives from food sharing to car sharing. There's also Share Your Spare, where people can share what they have that is spare. We're a home for the Sharing Economy. Our campaign Global Sharing Week reaches over 100 million people around the world, enabling people to discover the Sharing Economy.
Q: What is next for you?
Benita: I'm passionate about mainstreaming the Sharing Economy and look to grow my work across sectors, enabling companies of all shapes and sizes to benefit by adopting Sharing Economy practices, future-proofing their companies and the economy and society at large. In the next year, I'd like to deliver a talk or keynote each week to reach diverse audiences around the world. I'm working on a TV series on sharing and a book called Generation Share that I’ll be crowdfunding in the autumn. I'm keen to grow my personal brand as the Chief Sharer and become a household name for helping people to discover the magic of the Sharing Economy which can completely transform their lives.
Thank you, Benita - it is interesting to hear how we can all benefit from making our personal resources available. Having been named as one of the top 10 people in the Sharing Economy, Benita is pioneering the trend, reaching out to all kind of audiences to share her important message.
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