Impossible.com is a social network which aims to encourage a giving economy, where people give their time, skills and resources to help each other for free.
The idea behind Impossible is beautifully simple: a web platform where people can post what they can offer and what they need, in the form of wishes.
Founded by model turned social entrepreneur Lily Cole, the aim is to encourage people to help each other and do things for others, without money or trade, helping to build more resilient and connected communities.
Impossible aims to tap into people’s inherent generosity by making it really easy for people to give to others, via a simple web and mobile app and familiar social functionality (such as using hashtags to find corresponding offers and wishes).
But crucially, Impossible isn’t about barter; it’s about paying it forward. The motivation for taking part isn’t to get a direct return, but rather, trusting in the giving economy that others may help if/when you need it, and enjoying the act of giving itself. Users can also give thanks via the site, helping to build a community based on mutual trust, gratitude and respect.
A world-class team is helping to bring Impossible to life, including Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia – one of the most famous examples of the gift economy working at scale – who came on board as a mentor and adviser.
Impossible has also been advised by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, whose pioneering work with the Grameen Bank convinced the team to structure the venture as a social business – the goal is to become financially sustainable, with 100% of profits invested back into the social mission. The team is currently exploring different business models which fit in with Impossible’s ethos and social goals.
Award and follow-on funding
Impossible was awarded £50,000 in the first round of the Innovation in Giving Fund to help fund the first year of development. The organisation was later awarded an additional £150,000 to enable further research and development and help fund the creation of the iPhone app.
Impossible has been match funded by Lily herself and supported by Kwame Ferreira, one of her partners in the venture, whose company Kwame Corp provided web developers to help create the platform.
Initially, the Innovation in Giving Funded supported the prototyping and blind testing of the idea in two live communities.