Collaborative Consumption explodes in Latin America

At the end of 2010 a Spanish Google search for “consumo colaborativo” only rendered few results, among them this note from the Discovery Channel Latin America and an article on Argentina’s Rolling Stone website (2011), which were mostly focused on American examples. We are now in 2012 and I am pleased to report that collaborative consumption projects in Latin America have exploded. Would you like to learn more about some of these interesting projects?

The truth is that several countries in Latin America (Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, etc.) are among the few in the world that are currently “growing” (detailed report UN ), ie: apart from consumption and mass access to monetized goods/services.

It is often argued that collaborative consumption is only a reaction to the current economic crisis, and therefore, people will return to their “normal” habits of hyperconsumption (as it happened in Argentina after the 2001 crisis). However the steady progress of the collaborative economy in these countries experiencing “growth” gives more arguments to those who think that collaborative consumption is a trend that goes beyond a reaction to the crisis.

Firstly, global services such as Airbnb have opened regional offices (in Brazil) and are expecting large growth (note that the region has an estimated population of 590 million people). This has motivated local entrepreneurs to launch similar startups, such as Visiting.net and ZukBox in Argentina.

In the following I would like to analyze the factors and sectors that have encouraged collaborative consumption in Latin America: shared mobility, crowdfunding and several interesting programs that support entrepreneurs.

Mobility as a driver of change

Shared mobility, as seen in other parts of the world, seems to be the main sector that awakens collaborative habits. Everyone has already hopped in a car (coche/auto/carro) with friends to go on a weekend trip or ridden in a taxi with a stranger. Thanks to the fact that the mental entry barrier for a first time experience with carpooling services is low, the number of carpooling projects that have emerged is astonishing:

One of the most unique and interesting services is SaferTaxi for safe, agile and collaborative taxi rides in Latin American cities (Argentina, Brazil and Chile at the moment). This is an application for mobile phones developed to simplify and modernize the action of ordering a taxi, which includes the profile of taxi drivers (name, photo, car, license and reviews from other users of the service). The person may accept or reject a given taxi driver. SaferTaxi raised $ 1 million and has the support of StartUp Chile.

Carsharing is also especially gaining momentum in México D.F. where Carrot (video) is already operating and Ubicar (video) is going to launch soon. In São Paulo (Brazil), Zazcar (vídeo) has already been operating for a few years.

Mobility does not end with cars. Public Bicycle Systems (PBS) are also becoming more popular. There are EcoBici in México D.F. (copycat of Bicing at Barcelona) or Bikla in Guadalajara (México), MejorEnBici in Buenos Aires, Citycletas in Providencia (Chile), BikeRio in Rio de Janeiro or, at a smaller scale, PedalUSP inside São Paulo University (the interesting aspect of this is that the operator of the service is the Brasilian company CompartiBike that uses locally developed technology). There have also been ongoing requests to chose operators for cities like Florianópolis. As can be seen from The Bike Sharing World Map, there are even more PBS in the region.

What’s misssing? P2P car rental services like the Spanish service SocialCar or the U.S. company GetAround. The reason this approach to mobility may have not been adopted so far could be particular regional factors.

Movements fueled by Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has recently experienced an impressive worldwide growth. In Spain alone, we have more than 20 crowdfunding startups, with a similar trend in Latin America altogether. If Pablo Carcamo was right when he claimed that “the revolution will be funded collectively“, the emergence of crowdfunding is very important: crowdfunding could become the tool that builds the bridge between consumption and production within the collaborative economy.

  • In Brasil, where crowdfunding is defined as “a vaquinha do século XXI”, there is already a blog that is 100% devoted to the topic Crowdfunding Brasil and will be giving a crash course about crowdfunding at the end of August. As several crowdfunding sites have recently merged, here are some of the current ones: Catarse (after merging with Multidão. Catarse was the first crowdfunding platform to offer its source code), ItsNoon (after merging with SensoInComum), Movere.me, Mobilize, Começaki or Impulso (targetting entrepreneurs). Crowdfunding is also being used for social projects through sites such as Lets, SoulSocial, Tzedaka, Benfeitoria and obviously Vaquinha Social. I also like Queremos, which funds concerts in advance in Rio de Janeiro so that the artists do not have to skip a city. Another specific approach is the one taken by Dekdu, which allows large companies to host and personalize their own crowdfunding campaigns for internal use, which is mostly related to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
  • In other countries there are crowdfunding sites like Bandstic.me (funds artists performances in advance in México, with the support of Movistar and Wayra), Idea.me (probably the best known platform in Argentina and one of the most popular ones in all of Latin America), LaLa (very recent, based in Uruguay with a focus on film production), InPact.me (winners of Wayra Chile 2012, which targets social entrepreneuship) or Lincipit (originated in Chile but targets the whole world. Very interesting presentation video).
  • The lists continues in Argentina with Proyectanos, BananaCash, Groofi or NoblezaObliga (on the social and solidarity side). In México we shouldn’t forget to mention La Fondeadora.
  • Another trend, at least in México, is the use of U.S. platforms like Kickstarter to fund projects that take place in México, depsite the fact that Kickstarter requires you to prove a permanent U.S. residency with a Social Security Number, a U.S. bank account, a U.S. state-issued ID (driver’s license) and possesion of a U.S. credit or debit card.

What’s missing? A local node of Goteo.org to fund commons related projects. Who’s up to open the first one? 🙂

Great entrepreneurship programs: StartupChile and Wayra

We already wrote about Startup Chile in a recent article. In addition to startups already mentioned such as ShareTribe (new name for Kassi, which lets you create your own tribes for sharing), Koru (Airbnb for skills and services), Mamaroof (P2P long term students accomodation), LocalGuiding (social tourism) and Cumplo (P2P lending), there are new ventures such as TomoClases(P2P education), Aventones (carpooling), UniPlaces (students accomodation in local households), CrowdPlaces (crowdfunding urban spaces), TuCreaz (online crafts marketplace), Oja.la (online P2P education), Tu Closet Mi Closet (clothes swapping) and TouristLink (social tourism). As I mentioned earlier, SaferTaxi or Lincipit have also been backed by Startup Chile. The emergence of these startups has helped other entrepreneurs start their own projects in Chile (outside the programme) such as Sinbad (Airbnb for Latam), Trocar.cl (all kind of exchanges), ViajaConmigo (carpooling).
Similar results have been observed thanks to Wayra, a programme from Telefónica Digital that supports entrepreneurs in Spain, Peru, Argentina, México, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Brasil and other countries. Startups incubated or supported by Wayra are InPact.me (crowdfunding that targets social projects), Co-work in Chile, Poliglota (P2P language exchange), Bandastic.me (crowdfunding for concerts in México), KuboFinanciero (P2P lending in México), Educabilia (P2P education), Eventdoo (crowdfunding for events) or Sincropool (carpooling). Not bad at all, right?

What’s missing? We are missing the same level of support in Spain! We have nothing similar to StartupChile (and can’t even dream of it emerging) and although Wayra is active in Spain there has been little focus on collaborative consumption related projects so far.

In the media

Obviously all this has not gone unnoticed by the media.

The Pirate Party (in Argentina) has also shown interest in collaborative consumption by publishing a note about Rachel Botsman and a podcast with Albert Cañigueral.

The amount of videos is still small, but ViveResponsable, from México, is also doing an amazing job!:

Future prospects

Even though we have no cristal ball to let us know what’s going to happen with collaborative consumption in Latin America, Spain or anywhere else in the world, I would like to highlight some of our predictions:

  • We will witness an internationalization of initiatives within Latin America and between Latin America and Spain. Although there are many technical solutions designed for internationalization, setting up local teams (even if minimal) may be crucial in determining the success or failure of an initiative.
  • Since regulations in the collaborative consumption space will probably vary across countries, this could be a major barrier to swift internationalization.
  • We will witness more mergers and acquisitions similar to those that have already taken place in Brazil in the crowdfunding space.
  • In the near future we should see more initiatives in the sectors of P2P education (note), P2P financial services (Cumplo or Financial Kubo ), errand networks such as TaskRabbit as well as kids related exchanges.
  • Colombia and Uruguay seem to be following Chile/Argentina/Brazil/Mexico in deploying collaborative consumption services. What will happen in other countries?
  • Do not forget the experiences from the 2001 crisis in the region. What can we learn from it?

To conclude, we know that this review does not cover all initiatives that deserve to be mentioned. We apologize for this in advance. We will publish more information about collaborative consumption in Latin America soon, but for the time being we will collect all initiatives in our project directory. Do not hesitate to contact us if your project is still not listed!

How do you see collaborative consumption in Latin America? What did we miss?

Header image is taken from a frame of this Vive Responsable video under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license