Joys of giving and receiving

Updated: Oct 26, 2019, 07:39 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

An international speaker and photographer will launch a photo book made out of waste featuring 200 change-makers from Mumbai and around the world, who are building a sharing economy

Aarti Naik, The Changemaker: founder of Sakhi School for Girls Education
Aarti Naik, The Changemaker: founder of Sakhi School for Girls Education

The case for making economics understandable and accessible has been a long-standing one. With the focus on the larger, macro picture, bombarded with GDP/GNP figures, real human narratives are often lost. In 2008, when the world witnessed a financial meltdown catalysed by a capitalist model, it instigated the need for a model based not on a top-down approach but on sharing and collaboration — the sharing economy. The system is defined as one where goods and services are exchanged between private individuals for free or a fee — although classic examples include ride-sharing and co-working, its scope is broader. And it's this idea that led Benita Matofska on a journey across the world.

In June 2016, the international speaker and global sharing economy expert embarked on a project called Generation Share with photographer Sophie Sheinwald. After raising money on a crowdfunding platform, they met 200 people from over 30 countries who were building a sharing economy and changing lives. With the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis and the genesis of the sharing economy, Generation Share has finally been published as a book, out of waste.

Ashok Rathod, founder of the OSCAR Foundation for underprivileged kids. Pics/Sophie Sheinwald For Generation Share
Ashok Rathod, founder of the OSCAR Foundation for underprivileged kids. Pics/Sophie Sheinwald For Generation Share

"It is usually talked about with a very narrow approach, restricted to Silicon Valley. It's a system to live by and really about sharing resources in any way we can. I didn't want to write an academic book but one that touches the human heart. And that's where the photography comes through," Matofska says, over a phone call from the United Kingdom, where she is based.

The stories showcased in the book go beyond big corporations — ranging from the creators of human milk banks (which facilitate the provision of breast milk to infants) to food sharing. "The idea was to elevate stories of hope. And the world needs that, particularly at a time when we have a crisis of responsible leadership. Not many might be aware, for instance, that human milk banks can prevent 2.1 million deaths a year and the 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is wasted globally could feed the 10 billion living in poverty, worldwide" she explains.

Sophie Sheinwald and Benita Matofska
Sophie Sheinwald and Benita Matofska

Generation Share includes case studies rooted in Mumbai, too. You meet Aarti Naik, the founder of SAKHI for Girls Education, a slum-based school in Mulund that educates girls; the millennial Ashok Rathod who founded the OSCAR Foundation that provides after-school programmes in football for underprivileged children, and Inir Pinheiro's social enterprise called Grassroutes that offers community-based rural tourism. Another change-maker included is Akshay Bhatia, the founder of Mutterfly. "His venture enables people to rent anything — from a student who needs a calculator for an exam to luxury goods. So, it's tackling both accessibility and sustainability," Matofska, 52, explains.

And after Europe and the United States, the book will see a launch in the city next month at Kitab Khana in Fort. Matofska will be present along with her father, Alan Harris. "He has just turned 80 and it's been his lifelong dream to visit India. So, we're coming for an adventure. He will be performing a song on the ukulele titled The sharing song," she reveals.

On November 7, 6 pm to 7.30 pm
At Kitab Khana, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort.
Log on to http://bit.ly/GSLaunchMumbai
Free

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