Worker-owned apps are redefining the sharing economy | MarketingwithAnoy

In order to compete with well-funded private platforms, active state and municipal intervention is essential for platform cooperatives. This could be through procurement policies that give platform cooperatives priority over privately owned companies, conduct research on how laws need to be adapted around shifts in digital technology, and designate public spaces to be used as platform cooperative hubs. Examples of this already exist: the Kerala government has promised to help establish 4,000 platform cooperatives over the next five years and in 2016 Barcelona City Council launched Decidiman open source platform that enables citizens to take part in democratic decisions, including the creation of platform cooperatives.

“The key is a combination of robust regulation at the municipal level plus a gradual expansion of cooperatives,” says Schor. “One option is municipally owned coops, which are large enough to compete with the private platforms – I would like to see a city or two try this.”

The city of Bologna, Italy, has supported cooperatives and labor rights for decades, and now its municipal institutions act as incubators and facilitators of ethical alternatives to the concert economy and its digital infrastructure. One of these is cooperative for food delivery Design Etiche (Ethical deliveries), co-planned by city designers, local shop owners, academics and representatives of the concert workers’ union early in Bologna’s Covid-19 lockdown.

Consegne Etiche started by providing antiviral masks to residents’ homes and then expanded to other essentials for people who could not leave the home. Riders always get a fixed rate of $ 9 per. hour. It now also supplies books to people who are unable to come to the library, for which it receives 15,000 euros (approximately $ 15,600) in European support annually, and to those who live in particularly economically and socially fragile areas of Bologna, such as the receives another 15,000 euros each year.

But government-backed cooperatives are popping up elsewhere as well. To help drivers cope with rising fuel prices, the mayor of the Brazilian city of Araraquara helped set up the co-op Coomappa, who worked with a traditional software company to build a ride-hailing platform. Prices start from R $ 2.50 (about 50 cents) and it pays drivers 95 percent of revenue, which means they earn 40 percent more than they do on other platforms. Without rising prices and low cancellation rates, it is also popular with passengers.

Even with appropriate funding, it is not easy to find team members with the expertise to build the collaboration models and develop the digital tools. “Most people who learn to build businesses build them for their own wealth, not to target social change and grow the prosperity of society,” says Forman. Driver Cooperative appeals to volunteers in the coming months, especially Big Tech employees who can donate their time and knowledge to help them grow. It plans to roll out a three-month scholarship in hopes of attracting highly educated technology workers who are in the middle of high-paying jobs. They would earn a monthly scholarship to learn about the platform’s cooperative model in return for refining the app and imparting wisdom about the internal features of a larger, traditional technology company.

As these projects grow, it will not be possible to apply the same success metrics as a Silicon Valley concert finance startup. Instead of the number of downloads, funding round value or profit, the focus is on whether it achieves its social and environmental goals and serves its member workers. “We do not have the constant flow of travel like Uber or Lyft, but we have piloted hourly wages, and the next step will be benefits such as paid leave,” says Forman. “Refinancing car purchases means one of our members went from paying $ 1,500 to $ 500 a month and can finally go on vacation while another got married because he no longer works all the time.”

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