In 2003, I founded Close the Gap International, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to bridge the digital divide by providing refurbished computers and information technology (IT) equipment to educational programs in developing, and more recently, in developed countries. Our objective is to improve the lives of underserved young people by providing them access to IT equipment, and by extension, computer literacy skills and information via the Internet that they would not otherwise have access to.
In the industrialized world, computers are replaced every three to four years, meaning that companies are increasingly looking for sustainable ways to replace their used devices. At the same time, millions of computers are needed, particularly in developing countries. Recognizing this cycle, Close the Gap created a win-win situation. By supplying developing countries with high-quality, refurbished IT equipment that’s donated by companies in Western countries, Close the Gap creates practical, social and sustainable solutions that enable people to bring about a true change in their lives through the use of IT.
Through 2010, Close the Gap collected more than 160,000 computers from donors in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands. These devices are being used in learning centers in sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia, Latin America, and also more recently in employability programs in Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.