Society track of The Goa Project 2016

Pareen Lathia


From transaction to trust

Submitted Jan 14, 2016

To help build organizations or social models based on trust rather than transactions. In such systems, there is no need to motivate people, monitor them, or lay down rules of behaving in a certain way.

Such systems assume trust and people do what is best for everyone. Sometimes it seems like magic.


Our society is deeply based on transactions. In this we are losing human trust. No one trusts each other anymore. Everywhere we go, either we command someone - for example ‘ordering’ at waiter at a restaurant, or we follow commands - ‘delivering’ a PowerPoint to my boss. This is making our society behave like a machine and we become clogs in that mammoth.

We are building some models in Entrepreneurship that experiment with introducing trust in our social structures and replacing transactions. We have created a free Book Exchange system where contributors give their books for free, individual volunteers deposit them in small libraries across the city in their own houses, and anyone who wants to borrow these books can take them without any charges.
As such, this system seems impossible to function since someone can just take all the books and sell it in the second hand market. It also seems that there will be very few contributors and a lot of borrowers. But this system is working and it is quite opposite of what we imagine it would be.

We introduced trust as a factor by having every contributor write a hand-written letter to the next person who will borrow it. And the borrower can send a ‘gratitude’ note to the contributor once they read the book. This makes sure we only get quality books. And there is an unsaid bond that is created between the contributor and borrower - which leads to immense trust. So we do not need to worry about cheating. And people form the structures of this system. In fact this is not even a registered NGO. It is just people coming together.

We plan to implement this experiement, learn from it, and once it is working, make it open source so that anyone can do this in their city.


An open mind.

Speaker bio

A software entrepreneur with two ‘traditional’ startups, I rejected a funding offer last year after realising this is not the company that I would like to work for. After taking a sabbatical for over a year and 13000 kilometers on my bike, I am now trying to build systems that drive deep value to the society rather than just create monetary valuations that do not matter to anyone but the venture capitalists.

Currently working on the BookKarma project - where we connect people with the medium of books.


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