SLL – our new fundraising initiative

The acronym SLL might be new to you but for learners around the world it represents a digital lifeline. SLLs are Solar Learning Labs – digital classrooms constructed in repurposed shipping containers that are fully solar powered. Because they don’t rely on grid or generator power there are few limits in terms of where they can be located.  These innovative digital classrooms that are run by trained local experts allow young people to gain first-hand experience of technology and the internet without contributing to E-waste.  We are thrilled to be getting involved with a project that reflects our commitment to supporting sustainable development and the circular economy. 

  • More about the Solar Learning Labs project

Born of a joint venture between leading third sector IT experts Computer Aid International and computer giants Dell Technologies, there are now 21 Solar Learning Labs established in 6 countries. With a goal of building 100 around the world by 2030, new learning opportunities for tens of thousands of children will be created in the years to come. The reason we’re so excited about SLLs right now is that though our new partnership with Utelize, over the next two years, TEKrefresh is committed to help fund a brand-new Solar Learning Lab in South Africa. Our lab will be located in the Limpopo Province of north-eastern South Africa, which suffers from the highest poverty rate in the country.

  • Our Solar Learning Lab in detail

Our lab will provide 11 workstations, 10 dedicated student workstations plus one for the teacher. Members of the wider community will also be given digital training through the International Computer Driving License programme – a globally recognised skills standard. Better education at all levels of a community leads to improved communications, healthcare outcomes and food security. As neither of our companies is big on unnecessarily reinventing wheels, wherever possible we’ll work with local partners to ensure that the project delivers relevant, positive and enduring social impact.

  • Approach to fundraising

The donation of unwanted mobile phones and devices from our corporate customers will generate the funding needed to build and staff our digital classroom. Refurbishing a device is 20 times more efficient than recycling it and the average British consumer will own 35 mobile phones in their lifetime. 100 donated iPhone 8s equals 10% of the money we need to set-up our Solar Learning Lab. We’ll both be actively promoting device donation and 100% of the funds that we raise from donated devices will go directly to this amazing cause.

  • Our fundraising guarantee

All unwanted mobile phones and smart devices donated by our customers are guaranteed to be reused – whether they are refurbished, recycled, or resold. Items that can’t be resold will be harvested for parts. These are used in the refurbishment process, significantly reducing the need to buy in new parts. Any remaining waste will be collected by a WEEE waste accredited partner.

  • TEKrefresh and our new strategic partner Utelize

We’ve been looking forward to telling you about our new partnership with award winning telecoms services management experts Utelize. This strategic partnership will strengthen and enhance our joint capability to increase mobile worker effectiveness through the rapid deployment of replacement devices, smart use of software and efficient management of mobile network services. Utelize being shortlisted for the Business Green Leaders Award 2021 Circular Economy Project of the Year, cemented for us how closely our businesses are aligned in terms of the values we share and our mutual commitment to ethical and secure options for IT disposal.

  • A shared view on environmental advocacy

We firmly believe that the most powerful way to reduce E-waste, is not to create it in the first place. It’s a simple concept - when one mobile device is recycled, one less needs to be manufactured and one less goes into landfill. There are so many hidden costs to the manufacture of smart devices that we all need to be more aware of and take responsibility for. These include:

  • Making one 226g mobile phone uses approximately 74kg of raw materials
  • Manufacturers use 200 times more components than are evident in the finished product
  • Producing one microchip uses 36l of water

The environmental cost of mobile phones and smart devices is not sustainable and it’s critical to reduce what we consume and recycle what’s left. For businesses, securely recycling and donating devices for resale on the secondary market, will generate funding that will make a real difference in the world and deliver unique Corporate Social Responsibility benefits. In the words of Ahmed Houcine Fiak, Dell EMEA Giving Manager “Don’t underestimate your capacity to transform the world”.

  • Meeting sustainable development goals

We are genuinely proud that this fundraising project meets 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015:

  • SDG4 - quality education
  • SDG5 - gender equality
  • SDG7 – affordable and clean energy
  • SDG8 decent work and economic growth
  • SDG9 industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • SDG10 reduced inequalities
  • SDG11 sustainable cities and communities
  • SDG12 responsible consumption and production
  • SDG13 – climate action

If you’re looking for a secure, tax efficient, socially responsible, ethical and green approach to managing your organisation’s E-waste then look no further. Please feel free to contact TEKrefresh for a free of charge Green IT Review by visiting or calling 01293 710 020.

  • Computer Aid and Dell Technologies

If you would like to find out more about the Solar Learning Labs initiative, both founding partners have some interesting resources to share. Computer Aid International works to reduce technological inequalities, believing in a world where everyone has equal access to technology. Since 1997 they have helped over 14.5 million people worldwide and provided over 260,000 computers in over 100 countries, enabling over 1 billion hours of learning.You can read about Computer Aid International’s methods and strategies by clicking here.

Dell has published an interesting video about Solar Learning Labs that you can view by clicking here.