Funding support for IT (laptops, desktops, software)

This question comes from @gabrielmariteoletuke of SWEAT Development Programme (Sunya Ward Education And Training) in Tanzania, who requested that I post this because his internet connection is currently too low to use the forum:

Does anyone in the network have ideas on how SWEAT can get 5 laptops for staff use? For the time being we are using 2 old laptops.

We have requested support from InterConnection, which provides laptops for $99 USD and desktops for $79 USD, with a minimum order of 5 computers. Costs do not include shipping costs. Does this seem like a good deal? Are there other sources of computers that other NGOs or CBOs have used in the past?

Are there any sources of funding that could go towards supporting purchase of computers?

[More about InterConnection: Since 1999 InterConnection has been helping underserved communities around the world gain access to technology. InterConnection specializes in charitable computer reuse and has shipped tens of thousands of computers to non-governmental organizations, schools and technology projects in 40 countries and all 50 U.S. states.]


Good question! A similar question was asked on the Kabissa forum, and one valuable warning that Charles Brennick from InterConnection posted in reply was to avoid dealing with the EU Patel Foundation:

I know InterConnection, which is based here in Seattle where I also live and work from, and have high confidence in them. I love visiting their facilities and observing their volunteers ripping apart donated machines, sorting the unusable bits for recycling and creating workable machines out of the rest. They donate locally through a shop, online through Techsoup, and of course they ship containers of computers to be used in developing countries.

For SWEAT, one option might be for them to look for someone who is planning to visit Tanzania to bring along some laptops. The shipment option is not really viable.

There is an organization called Pack for a Purpose created to match tourists with nonprofits they can bring supplies to. I have no idea how effective this is but it looks interesting.

Thanks, Charles! Glad to have you in this conversation.

I guess another approach would be for say a national or regional NGO network to organize a nationwide IT capacity building project in the country to support a handful of projects. Collectively (harambee!) they could raise the money to pay for the shipment costs. It would be quite a process though and potentially challenging given the budgetary constraints these grassroots groups have in the first place.

More successful, perhaps, would be for SWEAT to include the laptops and IT needs (internet access, software licenses, an organizational website, training, etc) into the funding proposals the organization should already be writing to get the financial support they need to do their work.

I’d be curious to find out how much it actually costs to buy suitable laptops in Tanzania. It’s not like they don’t exist in the country already. We should bring Gabriel into this conversation.

@gabrielmariteoletuke can you shed light on your needs, what you’ve tried before, what you think of what’s been said here? You can reply to this email if your connection is slow, or log in to join us online.

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Great to read the discussion above!

One warning that happened to a former organization I worked with was to ensure you will not have issues with customs if you arrange for a larger shipment. Customs once intercepted a large quantity of donated computers, asked for a very steep bribe, and then they all quickly disappeared and we never received them at all! We used personal networks to have tourists, friends and others carry them over in a bag, which works well if you can locate people to do so.

Perhaps @nobel knows of cheap, reliable sources for computers locally? Good luck!