‘Capitalism has had its day, now is the time for social enterprise’ – Airedale Computers

Airedale Computers, the PC retailer that is part of a registered charity, says that more businesses should think about giving back to the community.

The company employs volunteers and apprentices in a bid to get unemployed people back into work. It recycles computers, provides local causes with PCs – and the money it makes from sales and repairs is passed to the Chrysalis Youth & Community Project charity.

So how does it strike the balance between helping people and staying sustainable commercially?

 "As far as the recycling goes, I’m getting free labour to break down the equipment," development manager Keith Sorrell told PCR. "We don’t make a fortune doing it – it only pays for running the place. But it’s an ethical thing, that we can break down and recycle the stuff, rather than it going to landfill.

"Along the way, we give away lots of computers to good causes."

Sorrell, who originally set up the business as a volunteer, believes more businesses should think about giving back to the community.

"I was shortlisted for Gordon Brown’s social enterprise ambassadors, and I’ll give you the same quote I gave them: ‘Capitalism was good for this country. It built it up but it’s had its day. Now is the turn for social enterprise.’

"It’s growing daily – there are more social enterprises doing the things that the Government used to."

It’s not just basic repairs and products that Airedale offers, either. Its technicians built the computers that designed the Olympic village.

"The graphics cards alone in those things cost £4,000," Sorrell explained. "So we already build very high-spec gaming computers to a price – £799 – with the best components you can get, including an R9 graphics card. We offer systems off the shelf and we also do custom builds."

Sorrell is also the chairman of the regional electronics initiative, which is a group of computer recycling companies based across the North of England, all aimed at getting people back into work.

Read the full interview with Airedale Computers in the upcoming February issue of PCR

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