Caring Benita’s vision leads Leeds’s sharing revolution

Benita Matofska launched website Compare and Share in 2013.

Benita Matofska launched website Compare and Share in 2013.

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BenitA Matofska’s inspiration to change the world came when she gave a speech alongside singer and activist Bob Geldof and South African apartheid opponent Desmond Tutu at a charity event six years ago.

She was so humbled by the two men’s speeches that she decided she would also try to tackle some of the planet’s complex problems.

Benita, a former TV journalist from Leeds, decided to help people share the countless millions of things that are bought and then left un-used, or under-used, by owners.

“The idea of sharing would not leave me alone.

“It woke me up at night,” says Benita.

Now, though, Benita is inspiring people to take part in the sharing economy.

The 48-year-old mum-of-two set up her own website, Compare and Share, in 2013.

The aim is to allow people to use the internet to share the world’s estimated £3.5 trillion worth of spare goods.

Speaking about her vision for the future she said: “Our vision is to open up the sharing economy, just as eBay opened up the second-hand goods market.”

More than 350 investors have already funded her website to the tune of £275,000.

She added: “The sharing economy is at the heart of what we do. People have always exchanged services and resources, but perhaps the innovation is that now we are sharing food with people we don’t know.”

Now based in Brighton, Benita had an early experience of sharing.

Aged 18 she drove from Washington DC to Los Angeles for virtually nothing through an “autodriveaway” firm, which matches up people who want to travel with car owners who need their vehicles moving.

Thirty years on, Benita is helping big organisations like IKEA and Macmillan Cancer Support to engage with sharing.

Last year, the Government pledged to make the UK a global leader in the field and set up a sharing economy action group. A new trade body was launched to champion the sector, which could be worth £9bn to the UK by 2025.

Leeds has been singled out for pilot projects – £700,000 of government money will pay for a transport venture in the city.