No one in their right mind would work mostly full time, for 9 years, for no pay.
I work with a core team of women who have volunteered our labor, many full time, with no compensation to cover even a portion of the costs of living for our families. We pay out of pocket to keep our passion project, the Buy Nothing Project, going. While perhaps virtuous, co-volunteering to run a millions-of-members-strong project on a free platform (Facebook) that sells our data to 3rd parties for profit, and rewards our efforts with paid advertising into our social feeds, has taken a core team of talented and diverse women to a place that feels dehumanizing and unsustainable.
Enter our new BuyNothing platform that we’re building into the equation, still as volunteers, so that more people can have equitable access to local giving, asking, lending, borrowing and gratitude. And while more hours disappear from our days, the work is exhilarating, knowing the impact is real and community-members benefit beyond measure from their local gift economies. Working full time in the gift economy model is not the world we intended to build, nor one we want our daughters to labor under: underpaid, undervalued, under pressure.
We’ve transitioned our social movement to a startup, and we believe we can disrupt expectations on what that looks like, just as we have done with our mindfully-crafted local gift economy model. Just like any other platform, we’re raising funds to realize our vision so we can protect users’ private data, and we are working on developing virtuous revenue streams for the startup that are mission-aligned, could bring wealth to each BuyNothing community, and will continue to provide solutions for worldwide problems like poverty, disconnected communities, waste-to-landfills, waste in the environment, supply chain disruptions, loneliness from the pandemic, inflation, unrest in our communities, destitution of refugees fleeing wars and natural disasters, work insecurity, over-consumption, extraction of precious raw materials from the Earth, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change, to name a few.
So there: I’ve said it. We’re building a company that will pay its future owner-employees for their labor because the world wants BuyNothing to thrive. We’re scaling rapidly and want to preserve the permanent mission of the Buy Nothing Project: Hyper local gift economies that build resilient, equitable, environmentally-friendly communities. But we need funding, whether from an Angel Investor, a VC Fund, from friends and family, or from you, the users of our worldwide Buy Nothing Project platform.
We plan to continue building in public. And if you’d like to follow along on our journey, consider following me on Twitter as I’ll be posting in the #BuildInPublic community there, sharing our trials and tribulations, so there’s transparency in the lessons we’re learning. I’ll also blog here and on our website, along with my co-founders, Rebecca, Tunji, and Lucas. And, if you’d like to join our team, we’re always looking for talented co-pioneers.
If you give to our platform, if you value the work we’ve done for the past 9 years, we’d love to recognize your gift, in the BuyNothing app – with an orange heart – so your neighbors can know you’re supporting them, too.