Buy Nothing Project: This venture began on Bainbridge Island in Washington state in mid-2013, when a group of citizens tried to get along in their daily lives without buying anything. The idea was that neighbors will give away, lend, or share items instead of buying or trading them—strictly a gift economy, one that encourages the re-use of what people already own. The project created such excitement within the local community that it led to the creation of a Facebook page that has attracted more than 80,000 viewers around the world.
City CarShare: This nonprofit based in the San Francisco Bay area allows members to share a fleet of cars, with the goals of reducing traffic and bringing more electric cars and hybrids onto the roads—a socially minded competitor of Zipcar. Founded by a group of transportation activists 14 years ago, long before anyone coined the term "sharing economy," the organization now has more than 15,000 active members. For $60 a year—low-income families get discounts—members pay to use the cars by the hour. This is another example of how the sharing economy can revolve around a simple sharing of assets instead of building the next Silicon Valley darling.
Freelancers Union: The Brooklyn-based Freelancers Union boasts nearly 300,000 members, having quadrupled in numbers in just seven years. Besides offering freelancers a sense of camaraderie, the labor union offers: its own health-insurance plan; networking and education events; free advice on the freelance business; and discounts on dental, disability, and life insurance, through vendors vetted by the union. For New York City members, the union also runs two primary-care health clinics—requiring no co-pays—and community spaces with free yoga classes. The intention is to give freelancers perks they'd receive if they held full-time jobs, which fewer and fewer workers do, sometimes involuntarily.
Read National Journal's in-depth profile of it here.
Hello Alfred: The sharing economy has matured enough that a next generation of startups has begun to piggyback on its success, as middlemen between individuals and sharing-economy goliaths. New York City-based Hello Alfred charges busy professionals $25 a week to serve as tech-savvy household managers, making sure that other sharing-economy companies buy the groceries and deliver the dry cleaning. Companies such as Guesthop help people get their homes ready to rent via the likes of Airbnb. These derivative companies create jobs and add new business models to an economy that needs both.
Read National Journal's in-depth profile here.
HourlyNerd: This is basically is a rent-an-MBA company that arranges for businesses, including small ones, to hire freelance business-school graduates by the hour for specific projects or consulting gigs. Unlike traditional consulting firms, with their in-house staffs, HourlyNerd arranges for companies to hire skilled professionals for however long a job requires. Businesses can buy access to any particular expertise—accounting, marketing, business development—while the MBA gains a flexible work schedule.