Belgium’s collaborative Economy

Collaborative economy in Belgium

As I’ve lived in Belgium for the last 16 years, my initial interest is on understanding and developing the collaborative economy around me.

The examples I’ve included in the illustration above are by no means exhaustive. Peer-2-peer platforms have exploded globally over the last number of years. I must admit to having been sceptical myself at the beginning. Can I trust them and the people who use them to be able to source goods and services … so I decided to try. I’ve rented apartments via Airbnb, invested in businesses via crowdfunding and even sourced the development of a new logo (still work in progress) via a crowdsourcing platform.

I’ve experienced them as a consumer and an investor but I’ve also helped projects in Belgium to crowdfund the development of their businesses and have therefore experienced it from their perspective.

There are many preconceptions around the collaborative economy. The one I’ve been most confronted with myself is that it is cheaper to source goods and services from these platforms than from traditional shops and e-commerce websites. In some cases this is true but it is far from a rule. So why do it?

Well that is the whole point in fact. People who use these platforms are not simply motivated by buying cheap goods and services. They are motivated by sourcing  goods from the producer which is what is behind “La ruche qui dit oui” and other businesses which connect customers directly with the source. They are motivated by creating relationships and having a unique experience which is often what is behind wanting to stay in someone else’s apartment. They are motivated by investing in people and projects which reflect their values and which create a positive impact either socially and/or environmentally. This is what is driving the growth in rewards based crowdfunding. They are motivated by wanting to reduce the amount of consumption & waste and to reuse what is already out there.

Similar to the examples in the illustration above, this list of motivations is by no means exhaustive. Each of us will find our own motivations but the key is to try so that trust can be established in the system.

If you are reading this blog, irrespective of whether or not you are in Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Spain or anywhere else, I can guarantee two things. The first is that there are lots of these platforms out there which are accessible to you. The second is that if you experiment with them, you will start to understand what your own motivations are and either this will lead to further engagement or you may simply decide it isn’t for you. In either case, it will be an informed choice rather than as a result of fear or scepticism.

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