World Computer Exchange (WCE) is a non-profit organization incorporated in the United States and Canada that provides the following services: capacity building, low-cost technologies, content development, training trips, and local recycling. WCE’s services are enhanced by 25 global educational Strategic Allies. WCE’s 800 volunteers assist 750 Partner organizations in 77 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Since 2000, over 3.6 million youth in 2,850 computer labs located in schools, universities, youth centers and libraries were able to access new skills, understanding and opportunities via the internet on WCE refurbished computers while these computers were kept out of landfills and recycled appropriately.
Our Mission: To reduce the digital divide for youth in developing countries; to use our global network of partnerships to enhance communities in these countries; and to promote the reuse of electronic equipment and its ultimate disposal in an environmentally responsible manner.
The idea for WCE came in 1999 when Timothy Anderson was a mid-career student at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. While there he learned that from 1999 to 2005 over 250 million computers would become obsolete in the U.S. - a staggering number. At the same time he was hearing from his fellow classmates from developing countries that their homelands, especially schools, wanted to connect their youth to the Internet. The idea of repurposing used computers was fairly obvious. The challenging question was, "How could it be done efficiently and cost-effectively?"
Twelve years later, WCE computers are housed in 2,960 computer labs in schools, libraries, orphanages, refugee camps and community centers in 44 developing countries, connecting over 3.6 million youth who would not otherwise have access to the skills, opportunities and understanding of the internet. Anchored by giving social benefit organizations access to quality and low-cost refurbished computers, WCE offerings include content, teacher training and more.
A Volunteer-based organization
WCE is a volunteer-based organization, engaging the skills, expertise and passion of 800 volunteers world-wide to build the capacity of our 750 local Partner organizations to bring 21st century education to young people in 77 developing countries. With the support resources of our 25 Strategic Allies, WCE builds capacity in project planning, partnership development, fund raising, tech support, content development, teacher training and responsible disposal of e-waste.
WCE has been showcased by numerous organizations including the Association of Directors of National Libraries in Latin America, Black Data Processing Association,Consumer Electronics Show, Cornell University Institute for African Development, Global Cities Dialogue, Harvard Kennedy School, iEARN International, Ilia Chavchavadze State University Georgia, Peace Corps, Special Libraries Association, UNESCO, United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies & Development, UN ICT Task Force Working Group on Low Cost Access, Walgreens, World Economic Forum’s Global Digital Divide Initiative, World Technology Summit, and Yale University School of Management. In addition, we work in many countries with Peace Corps Volunteers, Rotary Clubs, iEARN Chapters, UNDP Offices, and USAID Missions.
Our work is cost effective: We work as a volunteer and virtual organization to keep our costs low and our fund raising expenses below 3%. The Catalogue of Philanthropy has cited WCE as one of the area’s “best small charities.” This is an independent judgment that we deliver what we promise, and in a thrifty way.