The City of Mechelen joins the list of over 300 donors to Close the Gap who create social impact by giving their used computer assets a second life. We hope their example will be followed by many other cities in Belgium. Read the joint press release (in Dutch):
Close the Gap, waar afgeschreven ICT-materiaal een nieuw leven krijgt
Oud en afgeschreven ICT- en multimediamateriaal van de stad Mechelen komt niet op de afvalberg maar gaat naar hulpbehoevende Mechelaars en naar Close the Gap. Deze organisatie wil de digitale kloof tussen ontwikkelingslanden en Westerse landen verkleinen door afgeschreven ICT-materiaal een nieuw leven te geven.
Sociale dimensie afgeschreven ICT-apparatuur
De afdeling ICT koopt regelmatig nieuw ICT- en multimediamateriaal aan voor diverse stadsdiensten om de optimale werking van deze diensten te vrijwaren. Het nog bruikbare materiaal werd ter beschikking gesteld van onze kinder- en tienerwerkingen. Daarnaast kreeg ook de afgeschreven ICT-apparatuur een sociale dimensie door deze aan te bieden aan verenigingen zoals armoede verenigingen of sport- en cultuurverenigingen. Ze dienden hiervoor een gemotiveerde aanvraag in te dienen. Ook de hulpbehoevende Mechelaar kon aanspraak maken op dit oudere, maar nog steeds werkende materiaal. Op deze manier kunnen we de digitale kloof bij kansarmen een beetje overbruggen. Het overige materiaal werd via een veiling verkocht met een geringe opbrengst. Dit organiseren bracht heel wat werk met zich mee en de afdeling ICT ging op zoek naar andere mogelijkheden om het materiaal te verwerken. In eerste instantie wil de afdeling ICT de hulpbehoevende Mechelaar blijven helpen. Maar het overige materiaal zouden we willen doneren ten voordele van het project Close the Gap.
Close the Gap
Close the Gap is een internationale non-profit organisatie die de digitale kloof tussen Westerse landen en ontwikkelingslanden wil verkleinen. Dit doen ze door gebruikt ICT-materiaal, dat gedoneerd werd door grote en middelgrote organisaties of publieke organisaties, een nieuw leven te geven. Sinds hun oprichting, 14 jaar geleden, hebben ze al bijna 700.000 computer assets verzameld. Hiermee kunnen scholen, universiteiten, ziekenhuizen, micro-financieringsinstituten en andere sociale projecten meer opportuniteiten bieden aan individuen en gemeenschappen. Alle projecten hebben gemeen dat ze vraaggedreven zijnen niet gericht zijn op winst. Toegang tot IT is de sleutel tot de ontwikkeling van eender welke samenleving in de wereld van vandaag. Het verbeteren van toegang tot informatie draagt bij aan de eliminatie van armoede en ziektes en leidt tot beter onderwijs en meer gendergelijkheid. De kost van nieuw materiaal, de beperkte infrastructuur en het gebrek aan IT-kennis zorgen er echter voor dat veel mensen nog steeds geen toegang hebben tot IT.
De digitale kloof is niet alleen een kloof tussen mensen die toegang hebben tot IT en mensen die geen toegang hebben. Het is ook een kloof tussen mensen die kennis van IT hebben, en zij die het niet hebben, tussen mensen die beseffen welke opportuniteiten IT met zich meebrengt, en zij die dat niet beseffen. De digitale kloof omvat een infrastructuur kloof, een kennis kloof en een psychologische kloof. Kwaliteitsvolle, hergebruikte IT-uitrusting geeft toegang tot informatie op ongeëvenaarde niveaus en maakt arme en benadeelde gemeenschappen, die in ontwikkelings-en opkomende landen leven, weerbaarder.
Ophalen van materiaal
Als deze IT-uitrusting aan het einde van zijn leven gekomen is, hoeft het geen bedreiging te vormen voor het milieu. Verantwoorde recyclage kan nieuwe opportuniteiten voortbrengen in gemeenschappen, zoals het creëren van groene jobs, het stimuleren van lokale economieën en het herwinnen van waardevol materiaal dat gebruikt kan worden in nieuwe IT-uitrusting.
“In plaats van het op de afvalberg te lozen zorgen we ervoor dat het oude werkende ICT-materiaal een nieuw leven krijgt met een minimale impact op het milieu. En we zetten hiermee in op het verder verkleinen van de digitale kloof in onze stad en daarbuiten. Er zijn dit jaar al een 50-tal volledige computersystemen aan hulpbehoevende Mechelaars bezorgd. En deze week is Close the Gap al een eerste lading komen ophalen. Het gaat hier over 102 complete computersystemen, 48 printers en 36 tablets en smartphones. Er is ook al een tweede ophaalmoment voorzien. 200 computers, 50 printers, een aantal grote tv’s en wat servers staan klaar om opgehaald te worden. Hopelijk zullen andere steden ons voorbeeld volgen,” moedigt schepen van ICT, Stefaan Deleus aan.
Stefaan Deleus (schepen van ICT) T 015 29 76 16 | M 0495 56 03 36
Julie de Bergeyck (Close the Gap) M 0474 99 71 16
King Philippe officially inaugurated on October 4 2017, BeCentral, a new digital training space located at the Brussels-Central railway station, with Minister of Digital Agenda Alexander De Croo and the CEO of SNCB Sophie Dutordoir.
On 2,000 square meters, 25 companies and training centers have taken up their quarters in recent months, responding to an initiative of 28 Belgian personalities active in the sector.
Managing Director of Close the Gap, Olivier Vanden Eynde, is was one those 28 co-founders.
This is yet another valuable initiative that will help bridge the digital divide.
We are very proud to announce the release of Close the Gap’s 2016 Activity Report. As usual, this year was an extremely busy one! During the year, Close the Gap collected more than 90,000 IT assets, that’s the highest number of IT assets ever received! Special thank you to all for our donors, we would not exist without your strong support!
This 2016, we have participated in tens of conferences, delivering several keynote speeches. Close the Gap also organised numerous events, but most importantly, Close the Gap supported hundreds of projects, implementing ICT equipment in key projects in sub-Sahara-Africa and thus bridging the digital divide.
#CTGFriendsOf – The European Investment Bank and Close the Gap renew their partnership for 3 more years!
The European Investment Bank (EIB), through the EIB Institute, and Close the Gap started their partnership in the second quarter of 2014. The first donation of IT assets occurred in November 2014. To date, the EIB has donated more than 1400 assets.
Building on this successful partnership, at the end of July 2017, Close the Gap and the EIB signed a prolongation for three more years. Close the gap would not exist without the strong, supportive and dedicated commitment of its partners in industrialised, emerging and developing countries. The continuation of this partnership is a real success for Digital for Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Corporate responsibility is embedded in the EU Bank’s mission: the EIB operates on a non-profit basis to support the creation of a sustainable and inclusive economy without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Thus, donating used IT equipment through the EIB Institute is recognised as a responsible way to curb environmental and social impacts of linear consumption.
The EIB Institute was set up within the EIB Group (European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund) to promote a social, cultural and scientific dialogue with European stakeholders. It is a key pillar of the EIB Group engagement as a responsible and sustainable public financial institution.
Since 2012, Close the Gap has been a member of the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) a UN department established 70 years ago to promote global awareness and understanding of the work of the United Nations. Close the Gap has developed a partnership with Fordham University located in New York, USA. Every academic year, a student from the University has the opportunity to become the UN Youth Representative of Close the Gap, as part of their master degree. Students have the opportunity to attend conferences at the UN, informing Close the Gap regarding ICT4D and the Sustainable Development Goals. This academic year, we have the pleasure to welcome Oruada Oruada, originally from Niger.
On August 1st, Oruada attended his first conference at the UN HQ in New York; The Intergenerational Dialogues on the SDGs. The purpose of this conference was to gather global citizens to find new focus and patterns on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The conference was divided into ‘dialogues’ to address different topics and SDGs. Oruada attended Dialogues 1 “Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of Poverty” (addresses SDG 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 16). The panel of speakers of this dialogue included a former UNDPI Youth Representative of Close the Gap, Patricia Talisse. The discussion was about the role of individuals, families, communities, governments; social determinants, conflict prevention and resolution.
Oruada also attended an interesting Dialogue on Intergenerational Innovation that addressed SDG 7, 9, 11, &12, where the panel of speakers discussed innovation energy revolution/renewables, global citizenship, and ways of integrating younger and older generations to innovate collectibly.
The dialogues concluded with the understanding that the SDGs can only be achieved by 2030 if:
- Young people take responsibility for these goals and ensure their achievement by 2030.
- Global citizens build bridges between generations; the senior population should work with the young population, and vice-versa.
- Youth is engaged and participates to the best of their abilities.
- Maximizing personal capability by supporting young people to bring their innovation to life: supporting/encouraging young people to explore their dreams/hopes and bring their ideas into existence.
- Access to technology is global and inclusive.
- Intergenerational innovation is encouraged amongst youngsters and seniors
The SDGs are embedded in Close the Gap’s mission; access to ICT is fundamental in achieving several of the SDGs. Please click here to read our full sustainability report on ICT4Development and the SDGs.
“Once you set a goal, you must put every effort to achieve it”- Maher Nasser
During the month of June, Close the Gap partnered with Nailab and 1% Club to host the LEAP² Innovation Challenge in Nairobi, Kenya. During the early stages of the challenge, participants were afforded the opportunity to explore their business case as part of a training and co-creation workshop conducted by experts. Here, professional coaches explored the ins and outs of crowd-funding and helped tailor individual camping plans based on each innovation. After an entire month of crowd-funding, all 10 innovations pitched their digital solution to societal issues in front of an international panel of jurors consisting of social entrepreneurs, impact investors and leaders from the corporate world, including Executive Director and Founder of Close the Gap Olivier Vanden Eynde.
The four top innovations that reached their initial crowd-funding targets were B-track, Ebursary, EMEDEN Farmer’s market link and EsVendo. Close the Gap matched the crowd-funding targets of all 4 finalists once their campaign had reached 50% of initial target. While all innovations were outstanding for their strive to address societal shortfalls in Kenya, the LEAP² Innovation title went to Ebursary: An online platform incorporating smart tools and search capabilities to create a centralised platform serving both students and organisations. By serving a dual functionality Ebursary enables students to find scholarships and bursaries suited to their academic background and simplifies the process for organisations to find the strongest candidates best suited for vacancies. By creating such a platform, Ebursary has provided a direct service which shortens the length of time parties would otherwise be using to search various domains in pursuit of the right candidate/scholarship. By simplifying the communication between awarder and recipient, a more straightforward and transparent line of contact is being created where opportunities will no longer go unmissed in the chaos of information overload.
For Founder of Ebursary Dennis Gachoki, creating this online platform stemmed from his own personal frustrations with being unable to secure sponsorship for tuition. He recalls “My biggest wish was that someone would discover about my ambitions and pay for my school fees, it took long for that to happen until one day when I was informed by the school bursar that my school fees had being settled in full by an anonymous well-wisher.”
The significance of LEAP², a pilot program was to provide a digital platform to launch young entrepreneurs in the tech-sector and highlight the wide-scale accessibility of digital solutions and its ability to address societal issues in Kenya. And for many start-ups like Ebursary, it is an opportunity to secure seed-capital to bring a simple innovation to life with the capability to impact the lives of many disadvantages groups in developing countries, and Gachoki aims to do so…“I created this platform to help bright needy students to access information on bursaries and scholarships in Kenya… It is my hope that this platform goes on to connect thousands of these students to financial aid for their education.”
For the duration of June, Close the Gap partnered with Nailab and One percent club to pilot the LEAP² Innovation Challenge in Nairobi, Kenya: our platform to promote and support entrepreneurs that are creating digital solutions for societal challenges in emerging and developing countries.
From a pool of 42 strong applicants, LEAP² selected 10 successful innovations to partake in the innovation challenge. Aligning with the innovation criteria set out by LEAP², innovations were selected based on their ability to address nation-wide societal issues by applying practical and accessible digital solutions. Innovations addressed a wide-range of societal issues focusing on health, education, transport, farming and agriculture, energy and gender. With recent figures indicating that 80% of Kenya’s population has access to a mobile phone, a majority of innovations aim to deliver products through mobile-applications to ensure accessibility and mobility of services.
Upon completion of a one day workshop held during June, professional coaches empowered participants with knowledge and tools to launch crowd-funding campaigns for their business case over the course of a month. Innovators were encouraged to discuss and map out individual campaign plans that were tailored to boost innovation support and popularity by addressing key demographic sectors.
The crowd-funding campaign concluded on the 4th of July with a pitch day, where innovators could pitch their business solution to societal issues to potential investors. The results of the LEAP² Innovation Challenge are already online, we will provide you with more details very soon! Learn more about the 10 innovations featured by clicking here.
Last April, Close the Gap’s Head of projects Peter Manderick travelled to Tanzania not only to support the training on thin clients, but also to visit some of our partners and projects.
One of the stops made by Peter was at the orphanage in Neema, home to Close the Gap’s and Arrow Electronics first digitruck. Peter met with Mandy Stein, the Founder and Executive Director of Neema International who explained the progress of students, and the positive results of the digitruck. You can watch the video of the progress! Neema has diversified its support: Now, Neema is also focusing on young women who have not finished school, and would like to re-start their studies and pass their final high school exam. Neema International is giving them a second chance, providing them with education and preparation for that specific exam.
The orphanage also has a garden, where students are taught how to grow and harvest. In addition to that they have their own water tank, solar energy and bio-gas stove to become self-sustainable. Furthermore, students are channeling their creative side and selling their arts and crafts accessories to generate some revenue.
This mission to Tanzania was also the opportunity to visit a project that is very close to Close the Gap’s heart: Msandaka Lions Deaf Centre. Peter had the opportunity to speak with Nitu, the local project manager of the Lions club Moshi, and the director of the centre. Close the Gap’s chairman, Prof. Wim Blonk has been supporting this project over the course of 10 years, to which Close the Gap provided renewed computers last year. In honour of our chairman the school renamed their computer lab as the ‘Wim Blonk Computer Lab’. With the help of some funding, a vocational school is under construction. The school will develop 3 specific jobs trainings, one of them focusing on ‘IT professionals and e-waste dismantling technicians’.
Fund Isaan is a non-profit organisation that supports the education of children in the Isaan region of Thailand. Managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, the fund focuses on improving education and the support of microeconomic initiatives. To this end, the fund puts volunteers at the disposal of local schools.
Fund Isaan believes IT has become the single most important source of knowledge and the transfer of knowledge, which is the main driver of economic and social progress. In 2016, Close the Gap delivered 183 IT assets to the fund to be installed in schools to prevent regions from being left behind. As a condition for receiving these IT assets, schools have to organise adult education for the villagers of the surrounding communities and to open its doors to other schools in the area.
Fin Isaan is continuously collaborating with Close the Gap, requesting IT equipment for schools. Just last week, Close the Gap shipped 160 IT assets to Bangkok, which will be installed in different schools in the coming weeks.