Your laptop is a bit slow. The display could be better, and it’s too heavy anyway. It still works, but you feel it’s time for a new one. So you add the old one to the pile of discarded gadgets in your basement and wonder whether there isn’t a better way. The answer is yes, there is! Labdoo.org can help.
Labdoo, a global volunteer organization, will transform your old laptop into an educational tool for someone else and bring the device to children in developing countries or to refugees, for example.
Labdoo collects old laptops, wipes the disks, installs an open source operating system and educational applications, then finds travelers who will deliver the laptop to the recipient. And all in a climate-neutral way. When at some point the laptop breaks and is beyond repair, Labdoo makes sure it will be properly recycled or disposed of.
Making a Difference
Frank Geisler, a partner manager at SAP until 2013, founded the Swiss chapter of Labdoo. “On business trips around the globe, I’ve seen a lot of prosperity and a lot of poverty. That makes you wonder how you can help,” he says about what motivates him. When he read an article about Labdoo in 2011, he knew where he wanted to contribute and apply his skills and competencies.
“I take care of the logistics, communicate via social media, and talk to people to find sponsors, volunteers, and partners. Lenovo Switzerland, for example, donates all their old laptops to Labdoo. It’s actually pretty similar to what you do in partner management.”
“It’s rewarding in many ways.” he says. “The schools we donate the laptops to send us pictures and videos of how they are using them. Sometimes they are so touching that I watch them almost every day.”
But that’s not the only reward. Frank is a managing director of ERP sourcing, a consulting company and SAP partner based in Zurich. “Often when I talk to customers they are interested in supporting Labdoo too. It also works the other way around. Sometimes, Labdoo is a door opener for business contacts.”
Frank still feels very connected with SAP and his former colleagues: “I was on a wonderful team and we are still in touch.” When he started Labdoo Switzerland in 2012, he just posted a call for laptop donations on the SAP bulletin board and received a lot of support. “Since then it’s been growing exponentially,” he says.
Last year, the Swiss hub set the Labdoo world record for preparing laptops: 100 laptops in just one day. Getting results like that requires a lot of background work and logistics. “You need to set up not only the software processes and server infrastructure to prepare the laptops. You also need to organize storage space, figure out how to hold the sanitation workshops on wiping disks, find sponsors for snacks and drinks for the helpers and much more.”
But Frank and his fellow Labdoo volunteers have raised the bar and are aiming for even more: On June 24, they want to challenge their own world record. “This time we’re going for 110 in one single day,” Franks proudly says.