Sharing is caring. Waste not want not. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
These age-old mantras rang through my head when I start penning this blog post on the recently launched Sharing Economy Association (Singapore). Beginning in Singapore, the association hopes to become the “regional hub for companies and organisations involved in the sharing or collaborative economy which is an emerging economic model of sharing of physical and non-physical resources that is empowered by technology and social networks”.
Brainchild of Eugene Tay, founder of Green Future Solutions in 2007 and a mover and shaker of our green movement, the association’s founding members are stalwarts of social sharing, renting, lending and swapping enabled by social technologies. They are:
To find out more about the sharing economy as well as the objectives behind the association, I had the privilege of interviewing Eugene Tay, President of the Sharing Economy Association (Singapore). Join me now as we pick the brains – and heart – of this passionate yet genial advocate for the environment.
We describe the sharing economy (also known as collaborative consumption) as an emerging economic model of sharing of physical and non-physical resources that are empowered by technology, peer-to-peer and social networks. Sharing also covers renting, swapping, lending, and gifting.
The initial idea of collaborative consumption or sharing economy started from the book What’s Mine Is Yours by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers in 2010. Around the same time, The Mesh by Lisa Gansky (see my book review here) and the Shareable website also talked about similar ideas on sharing. Most of our members were inspired by Rachel’s book and her TED talk.
I’m always looking out for new green and business trends and ideas, and the sharing economy is one of the trends that I’m interested in. Last year during Earth Day on 22 Apr, I organised a public talk at my office and invited Rent Tycoons and iCarsClub to speak about the sharing economy.
After the talk, we were discussing how to spread awareness about the sharing economy and support the companies involved, and decided that maybe we should set up a business association. One year later, we are officially registered on 21 Apr 2014 with 6 founding members.
The objectives of forming the association is to raise public awareness about the sharing economy; develop a vibrant and viable industry for our members; and help our members address challenges and explore opportunities with internal and external parties.
Over the next two years, the association will lead the sharing economy in Singapore and embark on several activities, including:
– Monthly public talks to spread awareness about the sharing economy.
– Quarterly industry networking sessions for existing and potential companies and organisations involved or interested in the sharing economy.
– Regular consultation dialogues with relevant government agencies to address the challenges and opportunities of the sharing economy.
Ordinary membership is open to businesses and organisations registered in Singapore. An Ordinary Member’s business or activity should (i) involve the use of technology or peer communities to increase sharing, and (ii) help to reduce negative social and environmental impacts, or increase the utilisation of resources or assets.
We welcome crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platforms too.
I would say that the sharing economy is still in its infancy stage in Singapore and we have not seriously looked at the full potential of sharing. I definitely see more opportunities for product service systems, where consumers gain access rather than ownership of products, and also for the redistribution of unwanted or used items and assets.
There are some regulatory challenges faced by companies involved in the peer-to-peer rental of accommodation and cars. We hope to engage in constructive dialogues with the relevant government agencies to discuss and resolve these challenges, and to identify potential opportunities.
iCarsClub is a local startup providing peer-to-peer rental of cars. It has expanded to China and recently secured $10 million in funding to expand its services.
I think there would be more entrepreneurs and startups adopting the sharing economy as a business model in Singapore and Asia. There would also be interest from traditional companies to partner with sharing companies, for example, hotels working with peer-to-peer office space rental companies to offer their business guests access to external office and teleconference facilities. Another area of growing interest is B2B sharing, where companies with underutilised assets such as vehicles and machinery, can share them with other companies.
We aim to be the regional hub for companies and organisations involved in the sharing economy. Our goal is to have Singaporeans embracing the idea of sharing, the government supportive of the sharing economy, and a vibrant and viable industry for our members to grow.
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