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Making Computers Affordable to Everyone-Meet the Change Maker-Mukund

“We are sure we will find more challenges, but that it what entrepreneurship is all about isn’t it? As someone famously quoted – Entrepreneurship means living a few years of your life like most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your l

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Making Computers Affordable to Everyone-Meet the Change Maker-Mukund

IT is the new buzz word. We have been using technology in our everyday life so much, that today it is difficult to imagine a life without mobile phones and computers.

Today IT has entered our offices, our houses and now our classrooms also. We all want our kids to learn computers and we are ready to shell out a lot of money.

But, there are a lot of people who cannot afford to buy computers. Will they be excluded from the IT revolution? And how do we tackle the problem of our e waste?

Mukund BS found a solution.

An electronic engineer and an IIM graduate, Mukund found a solution to the problem of e waste while doing something good for the society. He founded ReNew IT, along with his cousin Raghav Boggaram in 2009 with a mission to “Make Computers affordable to everyone”

It all started with 2008, when Mukund and Raghav realized that millions of computers are being prematurely disposed and if they are refurbished and made available to millions of Indians, it could transform lives.

After the initial research of the IT space, Mukund took the big step and quit his corporate job.  He went to US to get hands on experience in the field. He came back to India and founded ReNew IT along with Raghav.

How does it work?

This social enterprise works on a very simple model.

It ties up with corporate to buy their discarded computers. Then, after the required repair and necessary maintenance they refurbish it to sell it at low costs. With their aim of providing quality refurbished computers and laptops at low cost, they supply them to NGOs and school and individuals. It is the only Microsoft registered refurbisher in Karnataka.

With computers costing as low as INR 4,500, NGOs, Schools and individuals, who could not afford expensive computers before can now afford them.

Mukund says that his family and friends were extremely supportive of the idea. In fact the family members were really glad that we were doing something which will help so many Indians who don’t have access to technology.

When ReNew IT started in 2009, smart phones were still not very common and computer was the main source of information to many people. But many people didn’t understand what they were trying to accomplish. Their business model was compared to scrap material collection and these premier B school graduates were linked to kabadiwallahs by naysayers.

But all this didn’t stop them from achieving what they started for. For them the only thing that mattered was the happiness on the kids’ faces who were buying their first computers from ReNew IT.

The challenge                       

As any social start up, their journey wasn’t all smooth. There were a lot of different challenges at different stages of their growth. As Mukund says,

We have all heard about how hard it is to start any venture in India. I have experienced it firsthand. It took us more than a year to get all the regulatory approvals before we could start our operations. Getting a first customer is always hard. Everyone wants a reference before they start working with you.”

But Mukund found support with his alma mater, IIM Calcutta alumni network. They helped him get in touch with the right people in their organizations.

As ReNew IT is scaling up, Mukund says

“We are sure we will find more challenges, but that it what entrepreneurship is all about isn’t it? As someone famously quoted – Entrepreneurship means living a few years of your life like most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”

Till now ReNew IT has sold over 10,000 computers, and most of their customers are first time buyers.

Many NGOs rely on ReNew IT to buy computers at refurbished computers at subsidized rates. One such NGO is AMBA. It train the intellectually challenged community to do data entry work, thus bringing in financial empowerment.

Mukund says his source of inspiration is the smile on the kids’ faces, whenever their team goes to AMBA to deliver a computer.

At AMBA we are greeted like heroes. All the kids there come and shake hands and give a million dollar smile. They are so excited about getting a computer to work with. The smile on their faces literally makes our day.”

Whenever ReNew IT delivers computers to any school, the kids are the happiest of the bunch. They get thank you notes from them for helping them get access to their first computer.

Mukund proudly says “We are truly blessed to be doing what we are doing. We are sure that some years down the line we will have stories about how some of these kids are achieving great things and that would be truly heartwarming and memorable for us to know that we have contributed in a small way towards someone’s success”.

Scaling up plans

ReNew IT is planning to expand its operations to more places so that their customers can have better access to computers and more and more people can be a part of the IT revolution.

The social venture which started in Bangalore has now reached Mumbai and Hyderabad too. They also provide their clients with free after sale services for up to one year.

But even after the recognition and awards like Innovation Excellence Awards for MSMEs 2014 and CNBC Masterpreneur award, 2015,  Mukund stays humble and says,

We are extremely grateful for those who are spreading the word about what we are trying to accomplish”.

Word of advice for budding social entrepreneurs

Mukund shares his suggestion for the young social entrepreneurs. He says,

The start-up journey is not all rosy as it seems. People can only see the roses and not the thorns. It is never a sprint and is always a marathon. It is really important to have patience and perseverance and above all passion. If the passion is not there, there is a higher chance of walking away when things become a little hard. But if one has the passion, and continuously takes action, the magic will happen”.

There is a huge digital divide in India and people like Mukund are striving to bridge it. A computer can change someone’s life forever. IT will be one of the drivers of India’s transformation from a developing economy to a developed nation. If India’s IT penetration goes up from less than 10% to around the 30% mark in China or the 45% level of Brazil, we would see a new generation of icons like Narayana Murthy or Azim Premji emerge. We could soon see an Indian Google or a Facebook. Mukund’s dream is to make this true.  

Hey says,

 “IT + IT = IT”

If all the Indian Talent can get access to Information Technology it will result in an Incredible Tomorrow for the whole world!”

 
Ashmeet Kaur (Team NGOBOX) Ashmeet Kaur (Team NGOBOX)
A feminist at heart and a vegetarian by choice, Ashmeet loves travelling and reading. With a bachelor’s degree in Literature from Delhi University and a Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, she has experience of working and interning with different social organizations. Always found reading, she believes that stories have the power to change us. Through this segment, she wishes to capture and share some of the most inspiring stories.
 
 
 
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