Q&A: Sam Lehane, London CEO of Camara

IT Pro meets the London CEO of refurbished tech social enterprise Camara to find out how its products help disadvantaged children

Companies hoping to get rid of their old tech need to look no further than Camara. The social enterprise aims to help disadvantaged schools and children through the refurbishment and recycling of computers and hardware.

With that goal in mind, the company has set up a new collection centre in the heart of London's SE1. IT Pro caught up with Sam Lehane, who's in charge of this new centre, to discuss what the company is doing to bring the benefits of tech to schoolchildren around the globe.

So tell us who Camara is, and what your role at the firm involves?

Camara was founded just over seven years ago in Ireland. By re-using technology we hope to provide a better education for children in schools and disadvantaged communities. We operate in eight countries in Africa with other operations in Jamaica.

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In terms of my role, I'm the project manager/CEO of Camara in the UK. I came over in September 2013 to set up a new refurbishing centre in London. It's now set up and fully operational. We're now looking at getting the word out to what we can provide to IT companies across the country.

Want to make a donation?

If your company is interested in making a donation to Camara, feel free to drop Sam Lehane an email at samlehane@camara.org to ask for further information.

How does the equipment Camara produces benefit others?

We've been able to provide over 700,000 children with literacy skills, which they wouldn't have had to opportunity to gain otherwise, through 2,500 eLearning centres and 50,000 refurbished computers. We've also trained more than 12,000 teachers in IT and how to use it in the classroom so they can then go on to teach more children the appropriate skills.

By far the biggest challenge is trying to match the supply to the demand.

What are the environmental benefits of the work Camara does? 

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We operate diverse methods of recycling devices. Companies across the UK are obliged to make sure that their electronic equipment doesn't go to landfill and Camara provides an avenue towards avoiding that.

The equipment we receive generally has for to five years of life left. At the same time, we also ensure that anything that can't be reused is properly recycled so we're making the best of the hardware that's been donated. Companies are no worse off using Camara than any other disposal method they might be considering.

So where do the computers the company refurbishes come from?

We're not in the position to accept individual donations, so all the equipment that has been received to date has come from companies and organisations. We don't specifically collect hardware from the IT sector; we'd gladly accept donations of equipment from any sector that uses computers and wishes to have a secure disposal option for old hardware.

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