Anitha Beberg, an alumni of the Silicon Valley Founder Institute, is the Founder and CEO of Seva Exchange, which has recently formalized a series of partnerships with organizations supporting blockchain for social impact and universal basic income, including TimeBanks USA and Andrew Yang 2020.
Seva Exchange is a platform using artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies to galvanize global volunteerism by reinventing timebanking services for the modern digital economy.
While the term is relatively recent, “timebanking” is a concept as old as human altruism itself: it simply means volunteering one’s time or talents in exchange for the time or talents of others. The term was first coined by Dr. Edgar Cahn in his 1992 book Time Dollars, and is defined by a facilitated exchange of personal services, offered as time credits that are “paid” between individuals within an exchange network.
The premise of timebanking is founded on the tenet that an hour of someone’s volunteered time is valued equally and redeemable for hour of someone else’s volunteered time, and that these exchangeable hours can be made to work exactly like an alternative currency. Dr. Cahn formalized timebanking in the United States under the nonprofit he founded in 1995 called TimeBanks USA. There are five founding principles of Timebanking:
- Everyone is an asset
- Some work is beyond a monetary price
- Reciprocity in helping
- Community networks are necessary
- Respect for all human beings
Prior to founding Seva Exchange, Anitha Beberg had spent more than a decade in software Project Management, working with companies including Infineon, Sun Microsystems, Cadence, and HP. While taking time to raise a family, she began to spend even more of her free time volunteering. When she met Dr. Cahn and was introduced to the concept of timebanking, she knew that emerging software technologies could help the alternative time-based currency to scale globally.
Seva means Volunteer in sanskrit.
Today, Seva Exchange is an official for-profit Benefit Corporation and subsidiary of TimeBanks USA. Dr. Cahn serves as the Chairman of the Board for Seva Exchange, while Anitha Beberg serves as its CEO.
Timebanking + Blockchain = Non-Fiat Universal Basic Income
Anitha Beberg founded Seva Exchange in 2018 because she saw the huge opportunity to apply emerging software technologies in order to reinvigorate modern volunteerism through digital timebanking.
And it’s easy to see the similarities to trends in cryptocurrency markets: while not wholly a rejection of so-called “fiat currency” in itself, timebanking has been offering alternative currencies for decades prior the rise of bitcoin. Before Seva Exchange however, the scope of timebanking was often perceived as limited only to people who actively spend significant amounts of their time volunteering. And it has been widely endorsed by those same volunteers, who readily see what a broader culture of volunteerism might already accomplish within communities, if implemented structurally through a time-based currency.
But Beberg has a vision to vastly broaden the scope of timebanking through Seva Exchange, implementing a digital token to be exchanged openly on a blockchain network. Cryptocurrency or tokens might also offer a clear mechanism for a form of proto-UBI (or Universal Basic Income), where issuing tokens directly to those most in need within a community would offer an immediate form to request supplemental assistance, completely separate from state-orchestrated welfare systems.
Beberg has partnered with Andrew Yang to further explore the idea. Yang is an entrepreneur and the founder of Venture for America; he is also running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2020, under a platform primarily focused on the implementation of Universal Basic Income.
While Yang might be a longshot candidate for POTUS, he is an experienced entrepreneur who has dedicated serious thought to the topics of how to empower citizens and workers across the United States, as well as about how trends in artificial intelligence and automation are likely to replace much of the work currently being done by humans across the economy.
Beberg saw the synergy, and hosted a fundraising event for Andrew Yang in November to discuss the implementation of UBI and timebanking solutions for the 21st century digital economy. Subsequently, Beberg was featured on a FinTech Silicon Valley panel convened to discuss Blockchain for Social Good.
A.I. Delivers Skills Matching and Increased Capital Flow for Timebanking
For any currency (crypto or not) to deliver economic value, it needs to be exchanged. Capital flow is critical for a currency to create real value - because while stagnant crypto wallets might be sitting around hoping for rising altcoin valuations, they aren’t putting those currencies to any practical use. For timebanking to deliver maximum value, time credits must be spent, not saved - this means matching volunteers with those who need their help.
Seva Exchange is applying Artificial Intelligence to matching volunteers’ skill sets with recipients’ most powerful needs, increasing the sense of value created for all parties. The SevaX platform motivates and connects volunteers to people in need, improving volunteer retention within nonprofit organizations. The platform adds four powerful motivators to increase and sustain volunteering:
Seva Exchange is building upon the pioneering legacy of timebanking by scaling the exchange of services and time credits through emerging technology solutions. As the company continues to build out its team of experienced and diverse advisors and board members, Seva is also actively raising seed funding to support their product development.
With key early partnerships formed and a clear technological potential to create a meaningful impact, Seva Exchange demonstrates that visionary founders like Beberg can think far outside the box and still create real value that also has a positive impact in the world.
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