Makerfox: World's first network barter marketplace
 Posted on 31/05/2014 - 14:13
Idea Outline
Every citizen has economic needs and offers! But for the unemployed, monetary economy fails to connect these with the offers and needs of others. Makerfox creates jobs for youth by making these connections with a novel, computerized form of barter.

The Challenge
In March 2014, 25 699 000 persons in the EU28 were unemployed, of which 5 340 000 were young persons under 25 [eurostat newsrelease 70/2014]. This means a youth unemployment rate of 22.8% in the EU28, including rates as high as 56.8% in Greece and 53.9% in Spain. At current recovery rates, this translates to a lost decade for European youth, including a failed entry into work life and compounding problems of precarity, poverty, depression and an inability to provide for an own family. On the plus side, youth unemployment is not about their education (which is great). We think it's about an economic gridlock, created in monetary economy under credit contraction and austerity: you need to have money before you can create a job, but too little money is left for such investments.

The Solution

We developed the moneyless marketplace for unemployed but "digital native" European youth to exchange services, worktime and products. It relies on "network barter", our core innovation: an algorithm to make bartering fluid like money. In our simulations, 1 trade had 100 users, 450 orders.

For-barter jobs are easier to find than liquidity-bound for-money jobs, allowing youth to earn part of own/family income. Only a small job for monetary expenses like rent is needed in addition.

Award funds will go into finding the proper place / pilot community and strategy to deploy our tool for max social impact. (We explored Basilicata, Italy, on our own and found its youth is not so entrepreneurial / international for being "early birds". Now looking for a city.)

Target group and social impact
Target group: unemployed yet Internet-savvy youth in Southern Europe, where youth unemployment is highest (Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Croatia). At first, starting with urban youth, since they tend to be more "digital native" and density alleviates the problem of monetary shipment costs on Impact: Economic benefit for the unemployed youth is finding a job, compensated with in-kind income. A social benefit is supporting entrepreneurial and innovation culture, since these barter jobs are self-employed, and allow to support each other for starting a for-money business. Increased sustainability is implied as this new "maker economy" starts necessarily local, small-scale, low-waste (e.g. urban gardening, bike workshops, car sharing, mutual education, remanufacturing, …).

Competences of the applicant
Co-founder of, a not-for-profit startup supporting a network of 2000+ young European changemakers. European Commission's "European Social Innovation Award 2013" (incl. seed funding) for the network barter invention. Diploma in Computer Science (THM, Germany, 2006). Extensive experience with alternative economics and its tools (sharing economy, Bitcoin, barter, time banking, …).

Video Link
See video

Social Category
  • Economic Empowerment and Prosperity

  • Tecnology Category
  • Social Software
  • Web/Internet
  • Other

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