I had a meeting with the Managing Director of a local company called Ozone Business Barter Exchange which has a pretty interesting business model. The idea is pretty simple. Many businesses have spare capacity – in my case time which is available in a day which I am not spending working on something for a client. This time costs me money because I am not earning anything during that time. Basically, it is dead time.
What Ozone does is convert that dead time into a tradable commodity on its exchange. The idea is to take your time/services and trade it for someone else’s time/services so you both benefit from each other’s business offerings without having to pay for it with cold, hard cash. Using a barter system that has probably been around as long as there have been human beings, you can effectively convert your excess capacity into advertising, printing, stationery or whatever else is on offer to trade.
Ozone charges a start up fee of around R1 900 and thereafter 4% of the value of the trade with each transaction. Transactions are conducted in Ozone Rands which are worth one Rand each. Ozone facilitates payment for services in Ozone Rands which can be banked. As I understand it, members are also granted a credit limit of sorts in Ozone Rand terms to both provide a facility to get started and to prevent abuse of the system.
The target market is largely SMEs and this is probably due to the fact that SMEs are perhaps more likely to have some excess capacity and lack the cash to pay for new services. I love the idea, myself, and I intend exploring this a little further.