Turning eWaste Into Opportunity

Veronica Esquivel

Veronica Esquivel

Guest Writer and founder of reTech

In honor of Women’s History Month, Das Tor is partnering with the Thunderbird Women in Business Club for an extension of their monthly “Spotlight Series.” During March, we will be featuring stories of women at the Thunderbird School of Global Management who share what makes them unique and how they are making a global impact.

reTech recipient Mirriam, a student in Morocco

The rapid evolution of technology feeds our society with enticing new models from our favorite brands. At the same moment when we acquire a new device, we set aside our old technology. But then what happens to the old tech? Typically, we store unused devices in a closet or on a shelf without a second thought. I was guilty of this pattern until I met Heaven, a young, ambitious mom tirelessly working to build a better life for herself and her child. She had to drop out of high school because of her pregnancy, but she was determined to finish earning her GED at home. The only thing holding her back was that she did not have enough resources to buy a computer to enroll in an online program. At the time, I could not buy her a computer, but sitting in storage, I did have the laptop I used in college that was functional and appropriate for her needs. The following week I did a data wipe of the computer system, then handed it over to Heaven. Immediately she enrolled in her GED program and earned her degree before the end of the year.

I shared my experience with family and friends, and soon this started a movement throughout my community. We launched reTech Global in 2017 and since then, refurbished and distributed computers to 5 different countries and connected over 50 new users. Our reTech team is committed to creating equal access to technology and information around the world. Our work to address the digital divide was revving up just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shook our world.

In 2020, the pandemic forced everyone to face and address the inequities in our societies around the world. In many low-income communities, the swift digital transformation left unconnected households without access to the resources and information they needed to survive. Our team observed how the pandemic exacerbated the economic, health, and education disparities weighing heavily upon our most vulnerable populations. It is a tangled case, but reTechies needed to do something to help. 

In 2021, we leaned into the design thinking model to launch reTech Fundamentals, an initiative focused on digital literacy. With the support of the ASU Office of Applied Innovation, and in collaboration with community organizations such as the Be A Leader Foundation, we are creating an innovative, low-cost, and accessible digital literacy training program to serve our students in Title I schools. Our goal is to impact 100 middle school students in the Phoenix area by the end of the year. The reTech Fundamentals modules will be filled with content that appeals to young learners and instills computer confidence. 

Advocate Dr. Myles who works with female students, gifting a student a reTech laptop

We know that our students are not vulnerable when they are equipped with proper access to the tools and resources they need to thrive. Because we are stronger together, we are working shoulder-to-shoulder with our community partners to aid in the development of the young scholars.

Lastly, we are happy to announce that in March 2021, we partnered with GladGrad Glasses LLC for a fundraiser. To help us support more students during this challenging digital transition, please consider shopping for a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses at the online GladGrad shop. A portion of the proceeds of the sales will go to supporting reTech Global.


If you would like to learn more about our work, please visit our webpage. Thank you for your support!

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