RECOM – Recycling Computers

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With the steady rise in the concept of entrepreneurship in India, the students being an affluent part of the society are making a positive effort to actively participate in it. Today in many of the colleges and even in high schools, students are taking an initiative in business start-ups. Such a business start-up was proposed by a small group of students in the Entrepreneurship Development Cell (EDC) at Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur (BESUS). I was privileged enough to be a part of the group which defined a landmark concept for our EDC. The start-up was named RECOM, which means Recycling of Computers.

We, being students of an engineering college, and I specifically doing my graduation in Information Technology, regularly noticed, old computers being dumped in a place sort of scrap yard in one of the corners of our campus. Almost every year at least fifty computers were discarded. We came to know about the fact when we undertook an inter-departmental survey about the replacement policy of computers. These old computers which are electronic wastes, unlike the other wastes do not disintegrate. This was causing a menace as the junk had taken a considerable space of our campus. So one day the Vice-Chancellor of our university in a college event, kept the problem before the students and as future engineers asked for the possible solutions. We gave a hard thought into the matter. At last we concluded that recycling of the computers would be a good way to curb the generation of electronic wastes. The problem still persisted, as most of the computers that were discarded were not working. The computers which worked were not suitable to be used in the laboratories. To recycle the computers we needed to replace few of the components, so there was bound to be a monetary constraint. In the mean time, we came to know about some news about the primary schools around our university, who wanted to upgrade their course structure and include computer education in their curriculum. But they did not have the capital to purchase new computers. Even the second-hand computers they planned to have were not cheap. The school that is run by our university was also in dire need of cheap computers. So we sensed an opportunity in this. The idea was, as the schools were primary, they would not need high end computers for themselves. We checked that the configuration of the computers that were discarded by our laboratories was easily compatible with their demands. So we only needed to replace the faulty components of the discarded systems and could sell them to these schools at a small price of rupees four thousand to five thousand with free service. The revenue generated by this venture could be used in purchasing the components that needed replacement in the faulty systems. So the plan for the start-up was designed on the line of non-profit social entrepreneurship. Seeing the possibility of succeeding in the effort to implement the plan, we, a small group of ten members readily invested a sum of money that would form the initial capital for the start-up. Thus the first ever business start-up initiated in our college which was aptly named RECOM in the year 2009.

A technical start-up such as RECOM was always going to be a new experience for all the members. Keeping in view of all sorts of activities that were needed to make the proposal successful, the group of ten along with five volunteers was divided into three units. All the units were designed to function sequentially. The first unit being Resource Unit was responsible for collecting old computers those were ready to be discarded. Initially the unit was responsible for collecting the discarded computers from the different departments of the college. But gradually the unit expanded its domain and procured old computers from the local software firms which gave away some computers annually. The next unit in the pipeline is the Testing and Development Unit. This unit is responsible for detecting the faults in the old systems and replacing the components as required. Servicing of the computers after the sale is an integral part of the duty that is being performed by the unit. Then comes the Marketing Unit. This unit mainly focuses on the possible customers those who are in requirement of the low cost computers. The marketing unit can also be viewed as a sales unit. The function of this unit is to survey the primary schools and their requirements for the computers. Additionally the unit is also responsible for spreading the awareness of spreading the necessity of computer education in the primary level.  So overall RECOM is not only business start-up, rather it also tries to fulfil certain social responsibilities that a recognised educational institution is expected to perform.

RECOM has been hailed as a versatile idea for the society by our honourable VICE-Chancellor. Moreover it is also being looked as an idea that could bring a change in the standards of education in the grass-root level of Indian population. It has already been recognised as one of the top thirty start-ups in India by the National Entrepreneurship Network in the year 2010. So personally I feel RECOM has a long way to go in the near future.

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7 Comments

  1. Debaditya Roy says:

    A highly enlightend concept of social entrepreneurship that will serve a great purpose  revitalising the traditional education in rural India paving the way for a great contribution that could leave a mark.

  2. Sumit Kumar says:

    definitely a thought-provoking artile!!A very good read..

  3. Soumyajyoti says:

    This  is  really  innovative   and  useful one  🙂

  4. Vijay Sabarwal says:

    An inovative concept serving various purposes. 

  5. Joy says:

    Please provide data – How many computers recycled, How much earnings, How many people associated in debugging & fixing the computers. Given the price of new hardware and expense to debug and fix a computer – this concept does not seem to be economically feasible. It may be economically viable to recyle the materials (steel, mercury etc.)

  6. subharthi pal says:

    really u r doing a nice thing for nation.

  7. Soujanya Chatterjee says:

    Its really a Noble concept. If it is nurtured well then it will be really Big.

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