From coffee beans to flamenco guitars: How Tripstigator is reinventing the notion of aid one collaboration at a time
Throughout the world, the digital workplace is becoming increasingly commonplace. While online platforms can in some cases reproduce existing societal inequalities, they also offer the potential to be great equalisers. Most promisingly, in the realm of charity, they offer a new opportunity for collaborative development in place of traditional notions of aid.
Any morally-conscious individual with the privilege to travel will most likely have engaged in some form of charity or another whilst on their adventures. Visiting foreign lands and meeting those less well-off than yourself opens one’s eyes to the way in which our world, although arguably gradually becoming more inclusive, remains one of deep divides between the well-off, and the not so well-off.
To tackle this concern, we turn to the notion of charity, sacrificing a small amount of our time or wealth in order to try and tip the scale of this imbalance. But charity, like many ideals, once unpacked, reveals an array of fundamental issues and contradictions.
Reliance – The current notion of charity being exercised reinforces a longstanding perception that the ‘third-world’ being somewhat reliant on the aid of the superior West, or ‘Global North’.
Corruption – The charity sector is now plagued with individuals and businesses poised to capitalise on the desire of individuals willing to offer their time and/or money for a good cause. The increasingly trendy ‘voluntourism’ sector often transforms an ideal originally built on the notion of self-sacrifice, into a self-serving, profit-driven venture.
Success – The impact of charity work, although offering an undeniable contribution, is often highly ineffective. It has become almost ‘rite of passage’ for Western university graduates to spend a few weeks or months in an African/Asian community less fortunate than their own, in order to undertake some grand venture such as constructing a new school classroom, or building a well. In reality, flying these individuals halfway around the world to paint a fence or dig a hole is probably not the most efficient way of utilising their skill set. Likewise, offering financial aid does little to alleviate social barriers in marginalised communities.
These issues arise largely because the notion of ‘aid’ does not challenge the root of inequality between the fortunate and the less-fortunate, or the relationship between them.
Also, as the newly formed startup, Tripstigator, shows, it fails to acknowledge power of the tools now at our disposal – thanks to technology – in reconstructing this relationship.
Tripstigator was born out of personal experience with these very issues in the charity sector, and seeks to address them by offering a new concept of development – that of collaboration, rather than aid.
Essentially, Tripstigator is a community of global citizens helping locals to participate in online commerce. It consists of building relationships between its online community of Tripstigators, and local people who would benefit by offering their goods/services online.
In particular, it aims to galvanise the potential of the peer-to-peer economy (the likes of AirBnb, Etsy, etc). Take Arturo and his unique bed and breakfast in the coffee-producing region of Northern Valle de Cauca, Colombia. Prior to Tripstigator, the success of Arturo’s bohemian, B&B stemmed largely from the positive word-of-mouth spread through the backpacker community.
But when one of Tripstigator’s global consultants discovered Arturo’s business, they quickly realised how the peer-to-peer economy could unleash the full potential of Arturo’s business.
In assisting Arturo with his knowledge of English and marketing in the peer-to-peer economy, his business is now going from strength-to-strength, and more backpackers are lucky enough to experience a stay at his unique bed and breakfast than ever before.
And with the vast, untapped pool of talent and experience around the world, this is just the start: from Flamenco guitarist’s in urban Argentina, to coffee producers in rural Brazil, there are endless opportunities to plug individuals into the peer-to-peer economy and share their talent with the entire world, in just a click.
Moreover, unlike traditional notions of aid, this is not a one-way relationship. By sharing their knowledge, the Tripstigator has made a meaningful local connection during their travels and developed their consultancy skills – they can even discuss taking a small cut of the resultant financial success if they wish.
The tale of Tripstigator and Tripstigatee illustrates how through collaboration, rather than aid, we can redefine conventional notions of charity and thus challenge the various issues associated with it.
By implementing the transformative capacity of technology and offering to pool our knowledge, instead of our labour, we are far better able to work towards a world of connections, rather than disparities.
To join or find out more about the work of tripstigator – visit www.tripstigator.com