Can you please tell a bit who you are and what is your background.
Hello! I am Benita Matofska, I am a global speaker and change maker. I am currently based in Brighton, United Kingdom. On June 17th, I am publishing my book, Generation Share. My job involves finding positive solutions to our global problems, such as climate change, poverty, hunger, inequality and isolation. 10 years ago, I was working in the charity sector following 20 years in broadcasting. I recognized that the world was becoming an increasingly unequal place and I wanted to do something to address that. The world I want to create is a society built around the sharing of human and physical resources. Following a life-changing experience where I shared a platform with Desmond Tutu at the One Young World Congress in 2010, I was inspired to create The People Who Share. TPWS is a charity that helps to unleash everyone’s sharing potential. I’m known as the ‘Chief Sharer’, I’m a global leader in the sharing economy.
How did you come up with the idea of The People Who Share? What’s the goal of the community?
I’ve always been really interested in the social impact of sharing. The sharing economy is a term that is widely misunderstood. When we think about the sharing economy, we should think about everybody. We want it to be about people like us, but oftentimes people are looking at very specific businesses, which are often backed by either multinational corporations or by venture capital. However, the sharing economy is in fact a much more far reaching term. Essentially, what it refers to is a system to live by where you care for people and planet share available resources in any way that you can.
I’ve done a lot of work to define the sharing economy. Over the last three years I’ve been working on a project called Generation Share. It is a book that documents the incredibly inspiring stories of change-makers worldwide who are creating social impact via the sharing economy by sharing resources in lots of different ways and creating all kinds of social value. It will bring over 200 stories – the world’s largest collection of changemaker stories. It is going to be published on the 17th of June for Global Sharing Week, the largest annual celebration of Sharing and the Sharing Economy.
The People Who Share began as a small non-profit. And still, we have remained to be entirely run by volunteers. As a charity, we’re very much about unleashing everyone’s potential to share. And we believe passionately that the sharing economy is for everyone. Through the sharing of resources and the accessing of shared resources we can build a better society and a better world and certainly better economy. We look at three kinds of values: social, environmental and economic – often environmental and social value is hidden and we very much want to unleash that. Though our planetary resources may be finite, we all have unlimited potential to share and collaborate and if we can unleash that unlimited sharing potential, then there’s no end to what we can achieve. Essentially, The People Who Share is a charity for people or businesses who care about the world and want to make the best future.
As a charity, we find ways to engage everyone’s sharing potential. We do 4 things. We promote, educate, organise and share. We promote the sharing economy through our campaigns such as our flagship campaign, Global Sharing Week. Global Sharing Week is the largest annual celebration of sharing. It takes place this year from the 16th of June to the 22nd of June. We work with over 300 partner organizations worldwide and have a global reach of over 100 million people. Last year we had 456 events in 247 cities in 39 countries on all continents. And we know this year is going to be the biggest still. So that’s what we do in terms of promoting this whole idea of sharing resources. We also educate, so we publish reports on how the sharing economy is creating social impact and changing lives. Thanks to these reports, it is evident for the first time how the sharing economy is having a positive social impact and affects people’s everyday lives. We also organise, by putting on events, such as meetups, community events and workshops, we run the Global Sharing Economy Network Meetup and finally we share. We run Share Tables at our events, collecting needed resources such as food or clothing for a variety of charities and people in need and we host the Share Guide, a free online resource providing people with access to over 10,000 platforms, aps and projects where they can share resources.
What is the best part of your job?
Through my job I get to connect and meet with people from all over the world and influence people who work in many different sectors. As an international public speaker and changemaker, my role is very much about helping people and helping businesses to change lives. I have the opportunity to change millions of lives by working with different organizations. The businesses I work with are what I call ‘changemaker companies’, which embed social and environmental value in what they do. It is certainly no longer the case that businesses can only create economic value. They now need to be creating social, environmental and economic value.
Through my book Generation Share I have interviewed over 200 change-makers from around the world. We have extraordinary stories from the two women who’ve set up a life-saving human milk bank that is saving the lives of premature babies to a slum-based school for girls in India called Sakhi School for Girls Education that was set up by change-maker Aarti Naik. It was set up in the slums originally in her family’s slum home, sharing skills and food with those in need. As a part of this program, the girls receive education in English, maths, science and financial skills and also receive a hot meal, which is often the only hot meal of the day for many of them.
The book brings these incredible inspiring stories of hope, to public attention as it’s clear that the world needs some hope right now. Generation Share is very much about focusing on positivity and sharing these incredible stories of transformation. We need to demonstrate that the Sharing Economy is saving millions of lives around the world. It is a global movement and through the book we want to inspire more people to get involved.
The book itself is produced from waste materials. Each copy will fund and educate a girl in the slums, supporting Aarti Naik’s Sakhi School for Girls. In addition, each copy supports the planting of a tree through the Eden poverty and deforestation project. So it’s creating and sharing good in every possible respect.
You’ve mentioned that you’re a changemaker. What does being a changemaker mean for you?
A change-maker is somebody who is at the forefront of creating a better world, changing lives, helping people to see the magic in the world, to recognize that we live in a world now where we need to share and collaborate. If we can unleash that sharing potential there’s no end to what we can achieve. That’s really what being a changemaker is about – it’s about unleashing that capacity to share. The reality is that we have enough food to feed everyone in the world. We have enough food to be able to end world hunger. The problem has been that we have a shortage of sharing. So what we need to be doing is to unleash the unlimited capacity to share and if we can do that, we can build a world that benefits everyone.
Could you give a piece of advice to people in S2M ecosystem who want to start sharing but don’t know how?
As I mentioned, everybody has the capacity to share and collaborate. As a starting point I would say to people, when you wake up in the morning, ask yourself this question: What do I have that I could share today? That could be as simple as smiling at a neighbor or making them a cup of tea. These simple things don’t necessarily have to involve technology.
However, if people are interested in how they can share online, we have a Share Guide that can be easily accessed. Also, social media can be used. We’re very active on social media. People can follow the hashtag “#sharingeconomy” and #generationshare and find out all sorts of ways in which they can access these resources. Perhaps you could share some of your time, perhaps you could go volunteer with a local charity. Volunteering / sharing time is something that everybody can do. We all have the ability to share.
To share is to be human. We wouldn’t have survived as a society without our ability to share and collaborate. We know that in times of famine and in times of war for example people survived by coming together and helping each other. Therefore, sharing is also part of our survival.
It’s something that everybody can do no matter where you are in the world. I mentioned Aarti in the slums of Mumbai with no future ahead of her. The girls there are married very young and many are sold into prostitution or sex trafficked. She looked around her and she realized if she wanted to change her future, her will alone wasn’t enough, she also wanted to share that dream.
She had nothing she lived (and still lives and works) in the slums, living in one room slum home with nine family members. She realized that in order to have a future, she would first need to get an education. She knew that she had to teach herself to speak Hindi and English because in her community people speak a local dialect called Marathi.
She did this by finding and reading resources. Then she wanted to share that with others. She saw that this was the ladder, the way out of this life of poverty and prostitution and no future for girls. So she sets up this school originally from her one room slum house. Her mother was incredible — supporting her through the whole journey, she allowed her to invite 5 girls so she could start teaching them what she had learned herself. Now Aarti has a small building (a school) in the slums that she rents.
My point is, if Aarti could do that with no resources, in the most adverse conditions, then all of us can share. `All of us can share with somebody, all of us can help a neighbor, all of us can take what we no longer need and share it with others / a charity shop or a school.
There are so many different ways in which we can share.
Social Media campaign from The People Who Share
We have a social media campaign that we’re launching and we would love the Seats2meet community to get involved in that. The idea is, if you have a group of people who post the same message at the same time. Then you are able to get to trend and you will able to reach 100 times more people than you would ordinarily. So it’s all about the power of the crowd to do this. Therefore, we are we all going to do one of these, called a pack.
Essentially, people sign up through this link to be part of this campaign. Then the campaign goes live on the day of publication of the Generation Share book, which is the 17th of June. Our goal is to be able to share that hope with more people and to help change and save more lives through the sharing of this book and the hope that it brings of building a world where we share resources in any way that we can.
Special credit to the book photographer and co-creator, Sophie Sheinwald.