The Electronic Reusing Association, an offshoot of a long-running Canadian group, is making early inroads into the U.S. market with the goal of making technology more accessible to those in need. The group is focusing its rollout on two of the country’s largest tech hotbeds—Seattle and Silicon Valley.
An association that’s making its first appearance in the United States has a pretty promising offer for volunteers who devote their time to the cause: Spend 24 hours working with us, and we’ll give you a free laptop.
The Electronic Reusing Association (ERA), a group that aims to extend the life of discarded gadgets, is launching depots in two cities in the American market, Seattle and San Jose, California, after 15 successful years in the Canadian market. The two cities are in the vicinity of some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Nintendo of America, and Apple.
As part of its border-crossing shift, ERA changed its name but not its mission. Launched in Canada as the Electronic Recycling Association, the group has strong ties to the immigrant community. Its founder, Bojan Paduh, came to Canada from Croatia and originally founded the group to improve the access that immigrants and charities have to technology.
In the midst of the refugee crisis of late 2015 and early 2016, for example, the organization played a central role in helping to bring recycled gadgets to those refugees—many of whom found themselves in Canada. With outposts in most of Canada’s large cities—among them Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Winnipeg—ERA was well-positioned to offer assistance during that time.
So why make the move into the U.S.? Speaking to Waste Advantage last year, Paduh noted that the U.S. market was in need of a similar service and that it was a dream of his to make the expansion.
“Over the years I have noticed a major niche in the market for a company like ERA to operate in the U.S.,” he told the outlet. “We, as a team, are really excited to see where this journey takes us and look forward to creating meaningful relationships that prosper throughout the U.S. over the coming years.”
The association hopes to expand into other cities but right now is focused on its initial launch period, which includes splashy donations.
“We are looking to donate over 100 laptops and 100 computers to charities and schools in the Seattle area to mark ERA’s grand opening in the U.S. market,” Paduh recently told Seattle Weekly. “Many companies and individuals just throw their old devices away; we believe there is another option—reusing electronics.”