While we are excited about the potential of digital sharing, these models are also no panacea. With French taxi drivers on strike and rising concerns around the implications of the “gig economy,” negative consequences of sharing economy models will have to be monitored closely. Additionally, asset-sharing models, like Airbnb, (as opposed to labor providing models, like Upwork), favor asset owners by definition and therefore may worsen inequality in some environments.
Nonetheless we think there is a strong case that supporting current models or pilots can be hugely beneficial in emerging economies by creating livelihoods, promoting asset building, and improving access to finance. In particular, many emerging markets are characterized by scarce assets and abundant labor. Digital sharing models can convert both of these problems into opportunities by sharing limited assets more efficiently and creating opportunities for workers to find jobs exactly when and where they are needed. Read on to see the positive effects digital sharing could have around the world.