The sharing economy in India is on an exponential growth curve. A number of sharing platforms have emerged, allowing individuals to share their home, their car, their belongings or their services. They no longer have to go through an interview process, compete with other applicants, or migrate to a big city – they can become self-employed simply with internet access and a service to offer. It offers flexibility, low risk and often a low start-up cost.
This digital revolution is having a big impact on social mobility and policy makers are taking note. Organizations such as Digital India, a collaboration between the government and various technology behemoths, highlights that “building I-ways are as important as building highways.” They aim to aggressively expand the National Optical Fibre Network that will take broadband to India’s villages, schools and colleges.
The sharing economy as an economic lifeline
One of the companies riding India’s digital wave is Airbnb. Amanpreet Bajaj, EY alumnus and country manager of Airbnb India, explains that the digital age provides the possibility of transforming people’s lives in ways that would seem unthinkable a couple of decades ago:
“People are paying their mortgages because of the income that they earn from this platform. People are able to pursue their hobbies because of the money that they earn from this platform. I met up with a couple of hosts who are single women, and they're raising children, based on the money that they earn from hosting. That's really powerful when you know that people depend on this for their livelihood.”
Airbnb has also teamed up with the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA), an organization representing two million self-employed women living mostly in India’s rural areas, with the aim of encouraging them to pursue new livelihoods by sharing their homes on the Airbnb platform. The potential for growth and for lives to be transformed is huge.