We can look back on a successful first year as an association. Together with numerous helpers, supporters and many laptops, we made a big difference for many people in Switzerland in the past months. You can find out where we go from here in this blog article.
A brief review
When we started this project on 1 April 2020, I never imagined that we would be able to grow so quickly. Within a year we have already distributed more than 1,500 laptops and by the end of March we already have more than 250 partner communities and organisations. This is a rapid development, which not only shows us that our work is noticed, but also that it is actively used.
At the end of 2020, we changed the device distribution so that we now distribute laptops exclusively through our partners. This change was a courageous but important step for us. As our profile grew, we were also literally covered with requests - on both sides. On the one hand, we (still) receive masses of laptops that need to be processed, but also more and more requests that need to be checked. We then thought about what our core competence actually is: and this did not include checking the neediness - here we can outsource something with the best conscience. And that's how our partner network came into being, without which we would not be able to place requests in such a targeted way today.
Another relevant point was the decision to now implant SSDs in all the laptops we received. We procured about 1,000 SSDs for this purpose, which we were able to buy for a good price at digitec. A new hard drive works wonders for older machines, and so we can provide even better and faster machines - even if it costs something. We see this as a sensible use of our association capital.
Collection of old HDDs - ready for deletion. (Image: Dalia Bohn)
I am stepping down as president. Why exactly?
This has to do with a very pleasant piece of news. With the contributions to expenses from our partner communities, we can now also compensate our massive work in a self-supporting way. As of 1 April, I will therefore take on the role of Managing Director with a 40% workload. Besides me, Benj will also be hired at 40%, as he is responsible for the lion's share of our equipment, our own IT infrastructure and our IT interfaces. Without him, the project would be poorer by one extremely motivated and competent person.
How do we do that in terms of wages? We make no secret of that. We pay CHF 1,100 per month per 20%. This is well below the industry average for IT, but it helps the whole association to work even more professionally and dedicatedly. Everything is framed with employment contracts so that we are also professional in all compliance matters.... What was once a leisure project will be able to grow into something much bigger with this change. The organisational form as an association will of course remain, because our aim is to solve the problem at its root.
Benj at the cabling of our server. (Picture: Dalia Bohn)
Where do we go from here?
As the first act of my business leadership, I will now be tasked with developing a clear strategy for us. Topics such as quality management, supply chain management, but also public awareness play an important role here. It is also important that the association as such can work for a long time; and therefore I also want to make sure that it is attractive for volunteers to work with us.
A new component will be that we will also offer workshops for children who are interested in laptops, PCs and the like. We would like to pass on our technical knowledge - and my enthusiasm for IT started at least when I was a child. Hopefully we can get some youngsters interested in tinkering with hardware.
Another area is communication. We have a lot going on and we almost can't keep up with sharing all the great news with you. I will personally make sure that we can provide you with all relevant information so that this "public service" can continue to work transparently. As far as we can trust the feedback, you seem to be very interested in what we are doing - and we thank you for that from the bottom of our hearts.
Our reprocessing room (picture: Dalia Bohn)
We also want to report more about where our equipment comes from and where it goes. We also want to promote more in our partner communities that not only laptops are purchased, but also handed in. Furthermore, many devices are thrown away that could actually still be put to good use - and in this way we close a nice cycle with which we can specifically combat poverty in the digital sector in Switzerland.
Last but not least, we would like to be able to assert ourselves more strongly in Western Switzerland. For this purpose, we have elected a new board member. Mario Böhler will shape the strategy in French-speaking Switzerland together with me, as we are currently only represented in German-speaking Switzerland. With this step, we see an important opening up of areas where a lot of help can also be given. Click here for our current partner map, which now looks much greener than it did a few months ago:
The current partner status
So you can see that we are now not only breaking new ground, but building on the existing values of the association and professionalising it further. It is an incredible pleasure to tackle and solve a systemic problem. At this point, I would also like to thank the whole team, who put their heart and soul into making it possible for us to work the way we do now. Thank you all for being part of it! 🙂
- Tobias Schär