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Scale up business models: Collaborative economy initiatives in MENA

Connecting people, organizations and ideas around fairness, openness and trust are key assets to support eco and social innovations


Why sharing economy is important?

The vision of the Switch Med program, especially the Green Entrepreneurship and Civil Society Empowerment activities, has many synergies with the mission of OuiShare : build and nurture a collaborative society, by connecting people, organizations and ideas around fairness, openness and trust.


What sharing economy is about and how Ouishare is working on it? (by  Asmaa Guedira OuiShare Connector and Albert Canigueral, Ouishare Spain)

The Collaborative Economy involves practices and business models based on horizontal networks in different sectors: Consumption, Learning (hellomentor, talentruc…), Production, Finance and Governance.

They promote a concept called Sharevolution that includes: Re-distribution (ownership transfer), Product and Services system (eco and functional), Peer to peer services P2P also called on-demand economy, Local Cooperative systems (not using digital platforms)

Ouishare is a non-profit organisation around the globe (local chapters now active in 15 countries). During the last year, OuiShare has been expanding in the MENA (Middle East And North Africa) region, with communities growing in Morocco, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.

It has 4 core activities:

- Creation of a close community  (global knowledge of local communities)
- Think tank in order to create critical content (publications, books, …)
- Incubator: instigate, support and incubate meaningful projects and experimentations from community and social innovators
- Education: apply community thinking to more collaborative society




What did we aim at?

The objective is to provide an overview of business models of collaborative society and economy in the MENA and to develop leveraging actions for scaling these up.

We want to come up with a roadmap assessing the different actions to be taken together by SwitchMed and his partners and OuiShare MENA communities. For this,  3 questions were answered during the group discussions:

1)     How can SwitchMed Initiative and Ouishare MENA Network work together in 2016 and 2017?

2)     What needs should they respond?

3)     What actions should they take collaboratively?

Which are the next challenges?  (by  Asmaa Guedira OuiShare Connector and Albert Canigueral, Ouishare Spain)

A recent study (12 collaborative projects among the region) was developed by Ouishare in order to see how to scale and leverage the initiatives: 

3 challenges were identified: Remodelling Space, Rethinking Mobility, and Sustaining Tourism and Crafts (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon)

- Some of the examples to answer to the identified challenges are:
- 52D in Tunisia Artistic Incubator
- L’Orange Bkeue Maghreb for organic gardening in Morocoo
- Tilli Tanit Co-working lab (Broderie) in Tunisia
- Karhbetna in Tunisia
- Carmine carsharing platform in Morocco
- Sheaply (for sending packages with people traveling,
- Craft Draft democratizing handicraft
- No More Middlemen from Morocco (similar to Etsy),
- Waste from Lebanon (objects with recycled materials)
- El Mensej
- Anou (handmade selling)


The regional challenges addressed by Ouishare are:

- Trust and community
- Sustainability (it is in the DNA of all projects)
- Financing (all projects complain about this problem)
- Gender (key issue that all projects address, there are also projects that empower the role of women from the organisation)


The key success tools:

- Social Networks and Digital Platforms

- People and talent

- Disruptive technology (but can at the same time be simple)

- Inclusive Governance


As a conclusion:

Scale and Replicate (The Pentagrowth study- with exponential growth:  levers for exponential growth:

- Mobile phones (connection and networking)
- The way to collect inventory (for example in a distributed way- artisans uploading their contents)
- The empowerment of users, the enabling of partners (co-create, co-market, provide)
- The shared knowledge (open, non-commercial, proprietary)


Group work outcomes

Each Ouishare connectors came with one problem to be solved in their country, using the Pro-Action Café methodology (one rule: when I raise my hand, you raise your hand and stop talking). They used some additional questions in order to give answer to their problem: What is the question behind the question? What elements do I miss to answer my question? What am I learning? What will be my next actions? What do I need help for?

The connectors:

- Nelly Baz, OuiShare Connector Lebanon
- Ahmad Sufian Bayram, ArabShare, Regional Manager MENA Techstars
- Cécile Marsille, Connector Tunisia
- Ehab Elia, OuiShare Connector Egypt
 - Albert Canigueral, OuiShare Espana
- Arnaud Pinier, Smala &Co, Connector Morocco
- Anne Cécile Ragot, Taoa


1.     In Jordan how can we engage senior people in new sharing economy
Traditions are a barrier à solution: someone from their same age range should be talking to them.
New technologies do not take into account this age range à solution:  single click initiatives should be promoted.
2.     In Morocco how can crowdfunding empower the circular economy and startups ecosystem?
Strong role to play by public institutions, but they should be careful à a solution:  a more neutral institution such as SwitchMed could be a key actor to intermediate.
3.     How to build a community of makers in Lebanon?
2 categories: 1) who are the makers (pro-active people)? where is the culture of learning? 2) community: join people to form the community of makers
The solution can be the promotion of public spaces, empowering  initiatives, enhancing the role of media, breaking  the community of un-makers …
4.     How can de collaborative economy empower women in Tunisia?
What does empowering women mean? It is about increasing human rights and about exploring new sectors for women. In general Tunisian economy is not stable and the sharing economy can make economy more informal. Sharing economy can be used to increase the power of rights for women. How can women win from sharing economy and what are the needs of these women. What is the level of knowledge to access to technologies? Ensure that women gain rights.
5.     How can the sharing economy empower local economy in Palestine?
Lot of challenges: freedom, mobility cannot be used in an innovative way, technology coverage, high un-employment.
Key sectors for sharing economy: tourism, mobility, crafts/art, agriculture.
The diaspora is very big and powerful. Key action: how to use this tool to pass all challenges including the environmental one à solution:  opening a platform for handicrafts. Another broader action could be opening an Acaton to involve on-line and off-site events.
6.     How can Ouishare and SwitchMed support the MENA region?
There is a language barrier in the region. Everything should be open source for the commons (even if it fails).
7.     What role should institutions play in the sharing economy in Algeria?

1) It does not exist now, promotion is needed

2) Institutions promote private based outcomes, collaborative economy should be promoted by private actors

3) Sharing economy can help developing and monitoring public action

4) Sharing economy needs to work with the big corporates

“There is a strong culture of sharing and we want to foster it in the region?, Ouishare 

Let's continue the discussion

You can join and contribute the discussion on Sharing economy continuing in the session community here. You can also download the presentations here. In that community we encourage you to post your own reflections, experiences and questions. Keep engaging and shaping the content of SwitchMed Connect 2016.