The pillar concepts of BubuSI

Expected impact

The bubusi ecosystem is expected to bring benefits at different levels:


  1. Increase products usage through a sharing that comes at no cost and risk for the custodian.
  2. Make sharing sustainable by

Increasing the lifespan of products through the set of ancillary services, and

Reducing their environmental footprint by making sure that things are either reused or properly recycled at the end of their effective life.

ENVIRONMENTAL LEVEL: the reduction in production plus the recycling or reuse into something else should help reduce the environmental footprint.

TECHNOLOGICAL LEVEL: an open source and open data software framework whose main singularity lies in its flexible architecture. Through configuration, it enables functionalities related to valuation, traceability, governance and knowledge management. This allows for the synergetic and symbiotic interweaving of different usages.

INSTITUTIONAL LEVEL: entities not aiming at profit maximisation but at benefit optimisation that channel resources and entities managed by their workers such as the Distributed Cooperatives (DisCOs).

SOCIOCULTURAL LEVEL: peopled and communities as users of a rich ecosystem that respects and values sociocultural diversity.

ECONOMIC LEVEL: help strengthen regional economy by providing oportunities at a local level.

The commons and the custodian

From the legal point of view, in the bubusi ecosystem the ‘product’ is still owned by the individual or organisation who bought it. Therefore, the idea of commons does not refer to the product but to the ecosystem itself. This is possible because a commons can also be defined as a social practice of governing a resource not by the state or the market but by a community of users that self-governs them through the institutions it creates 1. When ownership is governed this way, the person (natural or legal) that bought the thing and offers it for ‘bubusing’ becomes its custodian rather than its owner.

This is how the ecosystem aims at overcoming two major tragedies:

  1. The tragedy of the commons, by turning the ecosystem in the commons—rather than the product.
  2. The tragedy of the private, by turning the buyer into the custodian of the product—rather than in its owner.

This means that, from the legal point of view, things can continue having an owner, but there is a social obligation to share them when they are not in use. However, this social obligation can only be expected when society in general and a community in particular can prove that products are better taken care of and utilised when shared with others than when privately owned. In other words, for the owner to become a custodian, society has to prove first that it can build this ecosystem as a commons, while the specific community (i.e. neighbourhood, village or rural area) has to prove that it can implement it locally.

  1. Classical theory based on Elinor Ostrom’s book Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ↩︎


Our idea of reciprocity is inspired in the AYNI of Andean first nations. Andean communities (such as Queachua or Aymara) are ruled by AYNI, reciprocity in its broader sense as it grants mutual care while it strives for balance.

From a western perspective, focused on economics, reciprocity refers to the direct exchange of goods or services. There are three types of reciprocity: generalized, balanced, and negative.

Generalized reciprocity refers to an exchange that incurs no calculation of value or immediate repayment of the goods or services. Balanced reciprocity involves calculation of value and repayment of the goods or services within a specified time frame.

Negative reciprocity occurs when one party attempts to get more out of the exchange than the other party. This can happen through hard-bargaining, deception, stealing, or even selling or renting at an inflated price 1.

The bubusi ecosystem proposes two measures or indicators of reciprocity: a price and a token. This means that products can be bubusied either for a price or a token.

When bubusied for a price, the amount covers the depreciation of the thing during the time it is bubusied plus a fee. The fee covers the ancillary services needed for maintaining the thing in good shape. When needed, it also includes an insurance or extended warranty on the thing in case it breaks beyond repair.

The amount for an equivalent depreciation is paid to the custodian of the thing to make sure that the thing can be shared at no cost to the lender. The fee is transferred to those organisations within the bubusi ecosystem responsible for providing the ancillary services.

These ancillary services cover: (1) preventive maintenance, (2) refurbishing, and (3) repairs. The insurance covers the replacement of the thing for a similar or better one in case it breaks in the hands of the borrower and cannot be repaired. This aims at fulfilling the principle that the thing shall be shared at no risk to the lender (aka custodian).

The bubusi ecosystem also guarantees that at the end of their effective life, the thing is either reused for something else or recycled. This aims at guaranteeing the principle of sustainable sharing.

When bubusing for a token, the token covers the depreciation cost of the thing and it gives the opportunity to the recipient of the token (the custodian) to borrow something of an equivalent cost in return. However, in each transaction the borrower will still have to pay in money the cost of the ancillary services plus the insurance if needed, even when the depreciation cost is paid through a token.

  1. Retrieved and adapted from March 4th 2020. ↩︎