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Closing the Gap on the digital revolution


Quentin Duquesne, European Equity Analyst, Fundamental European Equity, discusses the CANDRIAM Institute’s partnership with Close the Gap, an international social enterprise program that bridges the digital divide by offering high-quality, pre-owned computers donated by companies to social projects in Europe and developing countries, thereby opening up new lines of communication for both young and old. 

By passing on disused computer equipment, Close the Gap’s actions complement CANDRIAM’S long-term financial strategy, which supports investment in companies providing new technologies and innovations that aid with the transition to a circular economy. 

While working on the market intelligence team at CANDRIAM, I was asked to identify a non-profit organization that aligned to our partnership criteria and was a good fit with our values, including our commitment to a more circular world. Close the Gap ticked all the boxes.

Reusing IT equipment supports CANDRIAM’S twin goals of focusing on a circular economy while also ensuring social and educational inclusion. During the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ensuing lockdowns, social isolation became a serious issue across the globe, especially for the young and the elderly.  Close the Gap provided tablets to the elderly, which allowed them to stay in touch with close friends and family. They also started a program aimed at equipping young underprivileged children with a laptop, allowing them to pursue their studies while staying at home.  

In partnership with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), a Dutch and English-speaking research university located in Brussels, Belgium, Close the Gap created a Research Chair on Social Entrepreneurship and also supports various charities and local schools like BeCode in Belgium, which offers free training for the IT sector. 

After making an initial donation in its first year of partnering with Close the Gap, after upgrading its iPhone stock, CANDRIAM donated all profits from the sale of the old iPhones to staff, further contributing to the organization’s goals. 

CANDRIAM is now considering other options for supporting Close the Gap, including directly financing one of their many global projects and exploring ways that CANDRIAM staff could make a personal contribution, for example, by organizing a collection of old IT equipment (mobile phones and computing hardware) from its offices or by using the annual voluntary service day offered by CANDRIAM to help out at a branch of Close the Gap in Belgium or elsewhere. More information about active Candriam Staff Involvement

I get real personal satisfaction from helping to make a better world, even in this small way. Working with Close the Gap also brings a level of diversity to my daily work, endowing it with a sustainable touch that corresponds with my personal values and those of CANDRIAM.
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