EIT RawMaterials supported aSmartWorld is generating a positive social and environmental impact by extending the life of smartphones and tablets.
During the first lockdown in March 2020, aSmartWorld decided to help the most vulnerable and isolated people by distributing 300 refurbished phones to 120 nursing homes in Belgium, helping in total 10 000 seniors to connect with their loved ones.
This initiative was widely recognised by local media in Belgium and generated immense interest from the public and potential partners and customers. The start-up estimates the number of unused phones in Belgium to be around three million (700 million within the EU). Thanks to this model, aSmartWorld can realise its vision to do business efficiently from both economic and societal standpoints while promoting a local and circular concept.
Promoting responsible and circular use of smartphones and devices
aSmartWorld is integrating the whole value chain of refurbished smartphones locally by collecting, refurbishing and recirculating smartphones at the local level. Its social and environmental missions are placed at the centre of its innovative business model. aSmartWorld is positively impacting the environment, actively reducing the digital gap and creating jobs locally.
The positive impacts on the environment and society have always been in the DNA of aSmartWorld. Extending the lifetime of devices produce a positive environmental impact when treated locally, and sustainably. Within the two months of the first lockdown, and with the support of companies such as Sodexo or BNP Paribas Asset Management and other organisations (Oxfam, the Belgian Red Cross) and EIT RawMaterials, the Belgian start-up launched its new initiative.
Connected Smiles initiative repairing the social link during the COVID-19 crisis
aSmartWorld decided to launch a second social action during the second lockdown in Belgium. Connected Smiles started in November 2020 and will continue for the next 18 months. The aim is to distribute about 10 000 devices through the Red Cross and Solidaris in Belgium. On top of helping to reduce the digital divide, it will also increase the number of devices being recirculated and increase the positive environmental impact. Various associations in Belgium are financing this action.
Moreover, several companies have already shown interest in participating in social actions aiming to close the digital gap in Belgium. Long-term contracts for the collection of their smartphones and tablets have been already signed with a few of them.
Circular and social initiative creating new jobs in Belgium
On top of acting in favour of digital inclusion by redistributing devices, aSmartWorld is also generating local employment. The potential job creation within Europe is massive. Under certain assumptions, 29 000 to 43 600 jobs could be created.
On top of the financial support through EIT RawMaterials Booster in 2019 and 2020, as well as the Booster Call in response to the COVID-19 crisis, aSmartWorld team is benefiting from the mentoring from EIT RawMaterials. Becoming a member of the EIT RawMaterials Community gave aSmartWorld an excellent opportunity to be introduced to various partners such as VITO, Umicore and Circular Wallonia.
In addition, aSmartWorld was nominated and became a finalist at the ‘CSR Pioneer of the Year 2019’ in Belgium, and received a nomination for the ‘CSR Professional of the Year 2020’ in Belgium.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the first lockdown, we needed to adapt our activity, and we wanted to have a direct positive impact on the local community. The Booster Call in response to the COVID-19 crisis allowed us to strengthen the team and accelerate our development to reach 12 people. We were only two by the end of 2019.
Geoffroy Van Humbeeck, CEO of aSmartWorld