M’sian Social Enterprise Giving Laptops To B40 Students

One of the lingering issues we’ve seen with the pandemic since last year is access to laptops and internet connection among students in the B40 group.

National initiatives like the 2021 budget and Syed Saddiq botak These challenges have put this issue further in the spotlight, signaling the urgency of it at times like these.

However, John, Wei Sheng, Qi Jun, Ashley, and Syakir didn’t want to stay home and wait for these great players on their own to make changes to the B40 students.

Therefore, the quintet came together in a 12 week program at the McKinsey Youth Leadership Academy to make Connect.ED a reality.

Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing to achieve their goals

Connect.ED is a social enterprise that aims to equip B40 students with digital devices such as laptops to facilitate online learning.

To achieve this, they proposed three steps:

  1. Collect and refurbish used devices from preferred schools, businesses and willing donors.
  2. Crowdsource funds and digital experts to help them find new devices and create digital programs.
  3. Channel the devices collected and the help gathered to give students what they need to learn.

Currently, they are working with Teach For Malaysia scholars and AIESEC to identify their B40 recipient students.

The process of collecting and refurbishing these laptops

Donors who wish to donate these digital devices can first contact them through their device donation form or on social media.

“So far we’ve mainly received laptops, sometimes with chargers,” John told Vulcan Post.

“We then assess the specifications for the suitability of the e-learning and hand them over to the student technician for repairs and refurbishment.”

Currently, they work closely with an experienced student technician, who has been repairing and renovating laptops and desktops for some time.

For B40 students who qualify to receive one of these laptops, they can expect to use them for at least several years.

Refurbished laptops ready to donate / Image Credit: Connect.ED

Crowdsourcing laptops have their fair share of shortcomings, however. John said they sometimes receive devices that are not repairable or not suitable for e-learning.

“These laptops lack webcams or sufficiently powerful processors, and we base the decision to repair and refurbish the device on the evaluation of our technician,” John said.

That being said, instead of just throwing away those old laptops, the team would salvage some of their usable components to sell online.

While inventory turns for these components may be slow, they hope this alternate revenue stream will provide them with enough funds to repair and refurbish more laptops to donate.

When it comes to finding donors, most of them simply contact the general public for device donations.

One of their recipient students, Azhar (left) and 3 refurbished laptops ready for donation / Image credit: Connect.ED

Split profits 70:30

“From the start, we wanted Connect.ED to be a social enterprise rather than just a non-profit organization. The idea was that we wanted to create a sustainable business model that would allow us to have a lasting impact without depending on donations and grants, ”said John.

Connect.ED has operated on a 70:30 profit split so far, with 70% of the profits going directly to device renovations for students and the remaining 30% going to support their social business.

One of the ways they have raised funds for this program is by selling student-designed items, such as tote bags made by their beneficiary students.

Students are responsible for creating designs that represent their personal dreams. Then Connect.ED would digitize those designs, print them on the merchandise and sell them.

The tote bags designed by their students / Image credit: Connect.ED

Help their students improve their skills once they have received laptops

In addition to providing these students with access to a decent laptop, Connect.ED aims to create digital programs that can help their students develop.

In doing so, they partnered with AIESEC at Sunway University to place one of their beneficiary students in their Speak Up! Project.

Speak! is a youth-led initiative that aims to improve STEM students’ English proficiency and literacy while providing them with opportunities to develop.

“This collaboration will give one of our students (Azhar) the opportunity to take advantage of the laptop that we were able to equip him with, so that he can learn game development skills and develop his own game. video, ”John told Vulcan Post.

From now on, John and the team will take a hiatus in February to focus on their studies and work to recharge before returning to Connect.ED.

  • You can read more about Connect.ED here.
  • You can read more social enterprises than we wrote here.

Featured Image Credit: John Peter Lee, Project Manager for Connect.ED

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Jothi Venkat

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