Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
4:01 PM 31st October 2014

Barter Business Offers Innovative Swap-Shop Option

Adele Guillen
Adele Guillen
An innovative online business is offering a new way of acquiring goods and services - using a concept which is actually as old as the hills.
Launched in Yorkshire, myswango provides a flexible cash-free alternative by allowing businesses and individuals to swap their skills, talents, goods and services.

The website matches members 'seeks' with 'offers' to help organisations and individuals find what they're looking for and share what they have to offer.

Founder Adele Guillen said:
"Before money was invented, people traded with each other through the system of bartering - exchanging their goods and services for something that they needed.

"Recent economic constraints have changed the way people think and everyone is on the look-out for new ways to save money. The sharing economy is coming back to the fore in today's businesses as well as in people's daily lives.

"Everyone has something to offer whether they have a business or not. It could be anything from accountancy to decorating, gardening to dog-walking or child-minding. You might have goods to exchange or even be willing to lend out equipment - that's all it takes to become part of the myswango community."

It costs nothing to register for a basic account. Members enter the goods and services they are offering and/or seeking into a profile and a directory. Either a direct match is made or, alternatively, members can contact each other to agree a transaction.

People can keep their profiles updated by constantly adding new seeks and offers as and when they wish. Goods or services are paid for using a virtual currency called swangos and the online account is credited or debited.

Even if a member doesn't find a direct swap with anyone, they can use their swangos later to pay for something that they want. Because no interest is charged on debit balances, there are no worries about getting into 'debt'. This means people can spend when they spot the goods or service they want and then earn credits to restore their balance at leisure.

Members get an automated notification sent to their email address every time a match is found or when a new member joins who has something that they are looking for - very much like on a dating website.

Adele, a training consultant from York, came up with the idea while working in Australia. She was on her way to an appointment with a beautician who was just starting up in business. The beautician needed business advice which Adele could offer - while Adele was keen to try out a unique, but quite expensive treatment that she couldn't justifiably afford. They agreed a skill-swap and that was when the 'light-bulb moment' occurred, says Adele.

She added:
"The practice of bartering is becoming increasingly important for all sorts of individuals and organisations looking for more imaginative ways to manage their finance, to test a business idea, increase their cash flow and boost sales. Myswango also helps people to develop a wider network of business contacts in their local community - often leading on to long-term relationships and sometimes traditional paid work."

"It never ceases to surprise me what people need and what they have to offer!"