Giving IT a second life and creating opportunities

The Belgian aid organisations Close the Gap and WorldLoop work to ensure that people around the world are provided with access to digital resources by donating used IT. A strong partner in this project is CHG-MERIDIAN: The technology management company offers its customers intelligent solutions to support aid projects - also in the form of a virtualized program.

Kinder aus dem Tuleeni Waisenhaus im mobilen Digitruck von Close the Gap

What appears on their notebook monitors is more than just a web page. For the pupils in the East African country of Kenya, information provided by the global data and communication network is the key to education, communication, and to a better future. Barbara Toorens, Director for External Relations of the aid organisation Close the Gap (CTG) works several thousand kilometres away. "Access to computers and the Internet are opening a whole world to these people," she affirms. With the help of Close the Gap, schools are able to access high quality computers that otherwise would be too expensive. "Digital divide" is the name for the invisible boundary between societies with access to digital resources and those who are cut off from them. The Belgian aid organisation aims to overcome this boundary and to provide people with access to digital resources that they have had to do without up to now.

This is achieved by technology donations by European companies to non-profit projects in developing countries. CHG-MERIDIAN contributes with intelligent solutions. The internationally operating technology management company has just developed a solution for customers in Belgium and Luxembourg to combine the purchase of new communications technology with a donation for the sustainable recycling of e-waste in Africa, Asia or South America. Deloitte Belgium, for example, has decided to purchase 3,000 new iPhones. "Assuming social responsibility is a value that is deeply entrenched in our corporate culture," says Guy Lucq, Chief Information Officer of Deloitte in Brussels.

Closing the circle with responsible recycling

Via CHG-MERIDIAN, Deloitte bought for each device issued to employees a certificate for the safe recycling of e-waste in the African state of Burundi, a project managed by the CtG sister organisation WorldLoop. By renewing our communication technology we are helping to introduce more than 20,000 used mobile phones in a responsible manner to the material cycle in Africa," says Guy Lucq. By incorporating the donation into the acquisition process, CHG-MERIDIAN has enabled a fast, smooth and transparent management process.

This project will set an example. Stefan Ertel, Executive Vice President and responsible for sales at CHG-MERIDIAN in Western Europe is in no doubt that this is the right way to go. "There are more and more companies who want to actively assume their corporate social responsibility," says the German who now lives in Brussels, "but many of these companies lack the structures to incorporate such CSR processes firmly into their business models“.

CHG-MERIDIAN successfully closed this gap in 2013: Since then, when customers of the Belgian subsidiary buy new hardware, they can already arrange for its secondary use via the technology service provider at the moment of purchase - with individually designed and clearly structured concepts. "The special thing about this procedure is that we have also successfully virtualized these processes - as the first technology managers in the world to do so" adds Ertel.

This also applies to the acquisition of classic IT. Customers can, for example, donate all or a part of the used devices to Close the Gap already during the financing process for new laptops, and are informed then about the predicted fair value of the technology after a usage period of three years, for instance. Or they combine the investment with the purchase of certificates for recycling. "Thus, we offer both smart technology solutions and the concomitant financing", says Ertel.

Our collaboration with Close the Gap and WorldLoop ensures that the donations are used in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. "Both organisations not only do an excellent job, but also think in processes" emphasised Stefan Ertel.

Aid project for autonomy on local markets

With every new project, CtG shows how great the potential of donations has been since 2003. By 2014, the Belgian aid organisation had collected more than a quarter of a million computers as donations, and thus supported about 3,500 projects in more than 50 countries. But what is needed are clear structures to ensure the environmentally sound recycling of the electronic waste devices, because the dangerous exploitation of electronic waste is widespread in Africa and Asia for people and the environment alike.

That is where WorldLoop comes in. Certificates acquired from the donors ensure proper disposal of the electronic waste devices in line with high standards. Local start-ups and specialised waste management companies in Europe work hand in hand to make the reusable materials contained in the devices - when taken together worth a great deal - usable again for the economic cycle.

"The fact that WorldLoop promotes regional companies so that they can work independently in the medium term, has convinced us," says Ertel thinking back to the planning phase. At Deloitte Belgium on the other hand, the intelligent services provided by CHG-MERIDIAN have attracted a lot of attention. "And this also makes people look at their technical devices in a more positive light, for example, by treating them more carefully", emphasizes Deloitte CIO Guy Lucq.

Security, trust, sustainability

Security is crucial when donating corporate IT to aid organisations, since the protection of sensitive data must be guaranteed. For this reason, CHG-MERIDIAN ensures its customers that data will be deleted entirely according to their needs using the eraSURE program at the end of the useful life of the devices. The deletion concepts are certified by TÜV and DEKRA, among others. In the CHG-MERIDIAN technology and service centre in Germany, hundreds of thousands of devices are prepared for secondary use after the end of their lease term, and this process includes nearly 100,000 certified deletions every year.

Deloitte also aims to provide aid in future in the form of donation projects. But standard solutions are out of the question, since from a business perspective it is essential to evaluate each case individually. "For this we need flexibility. And our long-standing business partner CHG-MERIDIAN has offered us exactly this flexibility for this project", Lucq summarises with satisfaction.

CHG-MERIDIAN has been a pioneer in the market with this innovative business model. After a successful pilot phase, the plan is to establish the CSR service in other countries. Scandinavia and the Netherlands have shown interest, and Germany is also a promising market. "Such processes have great potential," says Stefan Ertel. And this also applies to other capital goods that could be given a second life as a technology donation after the end of their useful life.