A GEM of an idea

SCRUB A DUB: Volunteers who offer their time and effort are rewarded with a number of Gems that can be used as disposable income.

David Shields spilled the beans on the brainchild, Gem.

If you live in the Greenside area, you may have spotted a group of people doing a major clean-up along Gleneagles Road and Greenway. That was thanks to Gem, a mobile payment system and a digital mobilisation platform for volunteers.

“Essentially, we reward people for doing good deeds, whether it’s for a business, at an event or just the community at large,” Shields explained. He came up with the idea with his friend and business partner, Camilo Ramada and they have, for now, hosted a series of pilots to test how the public takes to Gem.

These two turn monetary sponsors into Gems and share them out between various organisations. So when volunteers offer up their time and effort to these organisations, they are rewarded with a number of Gems. The brilliance is, volunteers can choose to spend their Gems on data, airtime, movie tickets and even prepaid electricity.

Ramada has been involved with mobile payments for 10 years and this system is based on the software, Cyclos. Shields admits that they built Gem onto Cyclos because it was a payment platform.

“We use it with time as a commodity as opposed to money as a commodity,” Shields added.

The partners have held pilots in Hogsback in the Eastern Cape, Sweetwaters in the south of Johannesburg and the clean-up in Greenside. And they’ve got plenty up their sleeves. Shields said that they’ve seen where the kinks were and what they needed to perfect with the project and now it’s time to launch to market.

He is extremely passionate about the programme. “Everybody wants to do something for the greater good. There are always these ideas, these ambitions but people are often just bogged down by everyday, mundane activities,” he said.

“So we created a platform that enables people to go that extra mile, and make it convenient for them and to reward them. Before you know it you’ve got the community networking and interacting with each other and helping each other in ways they wouldn’t have done before.”

Details: For more information on Gem or to sign up to the app visit www.gemproject.org

Victoria Taylor

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