Guest Columns

India needs huge number of low cost computers

Qualified and educated citizens are primary building blocks of a strong economy. There are 23 crore children enrolled in 13 lakh schools across the country. Unfortunately, the places where the teachers are needed the most have the least access to good quality teachers. Time and again, research studies have shown that many students especially in rural India are receiving very poor quality of education.Many 5th standard kids are unable to read 2nd standard book or do two digit subtraction problems.Technology will play a major role in helping the students in these areas. We provide schools with high-quality affordable computers along with Genuine Microsoft Windows at extremely affordable prices.Our initiative towards bridging this divide is “Computers in Schools”.

Our vision is to impact over a million lives over the next five years. There is a huge need in India for low-cost computers. With mobile phones, we have phones which cost lesser than Rs 2,000. With computers we don’t have low cost options. We want to address this need gap. We all know how the mobile penetration has changed the lives of millions of Indians. At the end of the day tablets / phones are consumption devices and we need computers for a host of activities which cannot be done with tablets / phones. For the future citizens to get better employment opportunities, they need to have access to computers and develop at least basic IT skills. We aim to create entrepreneurial eco-systems in each and every town by creating local, self employment opportunities. These entrepreneurs can provide after sales services, run cyber cafes, provide IT training etc.

I have done my BE Electronics from NIT Surat and Post-Graduation in Management studies from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM–C). After having graduated from the top 5% of the batch, I wanted to pursue a career in sales and marketing since I was always fascinated with travelingand interacting with diverse people. During my stint, I was deeply inspired by the triple bottom line philosophy which speaks about any world class organization having three bottom lines – social,environmental and economic. Often people expect only an economic bottom line with most businesses.

In 2008, I met a family friend Mr Shiva Nanda who was visiting India from the US. He is the MD of Newport Computers. What they do is buy back old IT equipment from large organizations, test them and harvest the working spare parts which are sold for maintenance requirements. Around the same time, ReNew IT’s co-founder Raghav. a graduate from Western Michigan University and MBA from Manchester Business School, who had returned to India and was heading a pharmaceutical manufacturing unit had to upgrade his computers to run the latest software applications. His old computers were still functional but they had to be discarded and the watchman wanted it for his high-school kid. That was when the seed was sown. We realized that if we could source old computers from corporates, refurbish them and supply good-quality computers at affordable prices, we could help a lot of Indians who cannot afford new computers. Along with Raghav, ReNew IT was founded in 2009, where we not only empower people socially by providing them affordable computers, but also prevent premature disposal of IT equipment which would create more e-waste.

In this digital era, it is imperative for the future citizens to be digitally literate. At the heart of the digital divide in India is the issue of affordability. Our aim is to bridge this digital divide – to make India’s growth more inclusive by providing good quality computers at affordable prices. Our plan to targetespecially government schools is because most of the students enrolled in government schools don’t have access to computers.

The writer is Mr Mukund B.S Founder and Director, ReNewIT, a Bangalore based Microsoft registered refurbisher and provider of high performance re-engineered computers, servers.Mukund was recently selected for CNBC Masterpreneur Season 2. ReNew IT, has also received the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) Innovation excellence awards for MSMEs 2014 for its ‘Young Innovator’ category.

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