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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

It's really just a case of dropping an email in order to go through the details with regards to what the equipment is, its location and what paperwork might be involved. Camara has a very straightforward one-page document that serves the purpose of signing off officially on any donations. We keep it as simple as possible to make it as easy for clients as we can.

Are there any rules on what can or cannot be donated or in what quantity?

There is no maximum. Twenty computers or monitors as a minimum is something we implemented due to the fact that the collection and refurbishment can be an expensive operation. We take all hardware associated with computing: keyboards, peripherals, mice, VGA cables, if a company has servers they wish to donate; we can accept those as well. Our main interest is in equipment that can be refurbished straight away and then sent out.

Responsibly disposing of devices, for data security reasons, is a big concern for businesses. How does Camara tackle this?

It's a perfectly valid concern to have. Each collection that is arranged we ensure is always point-to-point. There will be paperwork to confirm the acceptance of the equipment before its delivery and it will be sent straight to the refurbishment centre from the company donating it.

There are no extra journeys in between. Everything is counted, logged, bar-coded and signed off on at the centre to take no chances on anything going missing. We wipe the computers completely, search the casing and contact the original company to confirm that we've done so.

Looking ahead, what's Camara's biggest challenge, and how will you go about overcoming it? 

We're already well established at this stage, so naturally there's a massive demand for equipment from schools in Africa, the Caribbean and Ireland. The biggest challenge, really, and the purpose of setting up Camara in London, is to try and find the supply to fulfil that demand.

We're currently undertaking a three-year evaluation to make sure everything we're doing is correct and appropriate to each specific country and the schools within them.

By far the biggest challenge is trying to match the supply to the demand. That's the main purpose of our new operation in London. We're also trying to get ourselves out there, to help continue to fulfil the needs of the schools and pupils we help.

CAN YOU HELP?

The work that Camara does is very close to the heart of IT Pro's owner Felix Dennis. He continues to do what he can to ensure the most disadvantaged gain access to the tools and technologies they need to reach their full potential. 

Earlier this year, he worked with a number of key partners to equip 12,500 schoolchildren in St Vincent and the Grenadines with Windows 8 laptops

Camara needs your help. If you're a business about to undergo a hardware refresh, or you simply have a room full of old kit, please get in touch with Sam by dropping him an email to the following address, samlehane@camara.org. The IT industry is a great one for many reasons. And we're in a somewhat privileged position, so let's give something back. 

Get in touch with Camara today if you can help. 

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