The gig economy has transformed virtually every industry in developed nations, as consumers rent resources and services from one another, and limited resources can be shared between markets. Thanks to modern technology, consumers can connect with each other directly without formalized intermediation.
Think electricity, cell phone sharing, micropayments, water, and the list goes on. Here at WeGoLook, we are even experimenting with on-demand workers who can be dispatched to provide medical product delivery.
This direct access has significant implications for people in developing nations who struggle to obtain essential resources.
The real power of the gig economy is its decentralization. Users no longer have to consult a centralized authority – like a government or established company – to conduct transactions. The red tape has been removed, and consumers have more power than ever before.
One example of this decentralization is the network of Repair Cafés, located in 22 nations across the globe. This innovative civic solution teaches people how to fix everyday items like appliances, clothing, toys, etc., ultimately promoting greater sustainability in areas that need them the most.
Where the real power lies is in the ability for those who would otherwise not have access to essential services, can now through digital platforms. This is where the promise lies for developing countries.
Improved Access to Resources
The gig economy signifies a shift in focus from ownership to access. Thanks to gig economy platforms, people no longer need to own valuable resources to have access to them. For example, Go-Jek, the “Uber for motorcycles” founded in Indonesia in 2011, now boasts over 10,000 riders – the majority of whom do not own motorcycles themselves, but require transportation for employment purposes.
And folks in emerging markets want to participate. Consider that the willingness to participate in gig economy services in North America is at 52 percent. Whereas, for areas like Latin America and Asia Pacific, those numbers jump to 70 and 78 percent, respectively.
Gateway to Multiple Services
The major hurdle to adoption of the gig economy is access to the technology that ultimately facilitates the peer-to-peer transactions. However, once development organizations can provide consumers with the necessary technology, the new users will have access to a multitude of resources.
Rather than devising separate plans for distributing specific resources, gig economy advocates can rely on the technology to streamline several different processes.
Stronger Community Relationships
While many developing nations rely on sharing resources out of necessity, engaging in shared transactions by choice will foster a deeper sense of community. The sharing economy presents a win-win model for users, as the consumer gets a quality resource or service and the provider gets compensated.
Culture of Entrepreneurship
The sharing economy lowers barriers of entry to resources, but also to employment. For people struggling to make ends meet, gig economy platforms present unique opportunities to generate extra income with flexible time commitment.
When more and more people actively participate in the system, the community will become more sustainable and prosperous. A prime example of this is PrepClass, a Nigerian education platform that equipped independent tutors to provide over 14,000 hours of lessons with an average pay of $6 per hour in 2015.
The gig economy has certainly made life easier for people in developed nations, but it has incredible potential to transform the outlook for people in these markets. While technology is an integral component of the system, it is merely the medium through which individuals can connect with and support one another. We owe it to the gig economy to continue to share its power with others.