Subverting the traditional concept of a bank: recipients can also be givers.
Enterprise/business philosophy and objectives of the founder
“We hope that recipients can also become givers!” With this idea, Zhongcin Borough Warden of Taipei’s Zhongzheng District, He Shen Fang, transformed state-owned vacant space into a “Happy Auspicious Food Bank” in 2013, as well as invited different public interest groups to brainstorm steps to further transform it into a “Livelihood Bank” that would provide low income and disadvantaged households with food and material supplies. Through the concept of community currency, low income households or those in need of help can accumulate community service points which can be exchanged for supplies, bringing about the shared vision that giving brings more happiness than receiving.
History of development/business model
Livelihood Bank uses convenience stores as a reference for its business model, adopting a “bank book” method in its management. Vulnerable households are given 500 points each month that they can use in exchange for the products they need. If the points run out, individuals need to engage with their community to obtain more points, such as by becoming part of the community patrol team, or taking meals to immobile elderly residents who live alone. Every hour they serve their community, they receive 20 points. He Shen Fang has also launched the “four vegetables and one soup” Happy Kitchen, which collects excess rice in peak season so that resource waste can be avoided through foodsharing.
In addition, in 2016, He Shen Fang began to cooperate with Carrefour to create Taiwan’s first “recycled food restaurant”, Housebook Café, cooking soon-to-expire food within the restaurant, as well as selling second-best fruit and vegetables at a cheap price to those in need. Furthermore, a “Foodsharing Fridge” has also been set up near the restaurant, so that households in the community can place a label on the food that they would otherwise throw out or waste and put it in the fridge. Anyone who needs it is free to come and take it within 24 hours.
Creating social value/mitigating social problems
Providing both material goods and food, the Nanjichang Livelihood Bank is not just a storage bank, instead allowing those who need help to exchange their service for goods. And, having set up a communal foodsharing fridge in the community, the Nanjichang Livelihood Bank also reverses the problem of food waste, so that food that was originally to be discarded can be used by those who really need it.
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1F., No.12, Ln. 301, Sec. 2, Zhonghua Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan (R.O.C.)