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SwopAnything: a marketplace inspired by circular thinking

by | Aug 20, 2020

The vision of a circular economy is inspiring businesses all over the world to create innovative solutions to increase the lifespan of our stuff. These solutions are addressing our ‘waste culture’ and the larger environmental problems that go with it.

An example of a business inspired by circular economy thinking is the new online bartering platform ‘SwopAnything’. You can trade just about anything for anything in an e-commerce model that hopes to redefine consumer culture and reduce its massive carbon footprint.

SwopAnything is a free application which derives income from digital advertising space. Besides the novelty of an optional cash exchange, SwopAnything differs from other popular e-commerce platforms like Gumtree and OLX in a number of ways. A swopper can exchange anything  across different categories such as learning a language for family recipes. ‘Temporary swops’ are also an option where a Matric dance dress can be temporarily exchanged for a series of books.

The need for us to relook at our relationship with the planet has never been more urgent

Cape Town-based Dutch businessman and chair of OneMinute Technologies, Edward Bouwer says the central drive for creating the platform came not only from the need to create a more circular shopping model but also to help people keep food on the table. Since Covid-19 pushed South Africa into a national state of disaster five months ago, incomes have plummeted. He says: “I shudder to think how economies are going to recover from the effects of this global shutdown but even more so the impact on individuals. There has never been a more crucial time to instil hope and remind people that their value remains intact despite what is lost. Money is scarce for many people and businesses, yet people have abilities and skills which they could use in return to get services or items they may require.”

SwopAnything encourages a culture of reusing and recycling products by swopping with others. “The need for us to relook at our relationship with the planet has never been more urgent. The act of buying has become an affront to nature that society had normalised. We must get to a point where we buy consciously and we think of ways of not only circulating our items but also repurposing them.”

To ensure the safety of the app, all listings are approved by SwopAnything’s verification team. The site implements an artificial intelligence module to help identify prohibited items like drugs and weapons through keywords and imagery in listings. “Our apps are hosted by one of the top global cloud providers, data is stored on their servers which adhere to the best international standard protocols,” says Bouwer.


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  • Feature image: Rabie Madaci via Unsplash
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