Seth Heine started a company called CollectiveGood, which gathered used and discarded cell phones, either for sale abroad or for parts. Over the past 18 months, CollectiveGood has sold the majority of the 15,000 phones collected through his program to carriers Latin America and the Caribbean.
The margins on such sales are small. After spending from $1 to $2 on sorting, refurbishing, and shipping, CollectiveGood typically sells to foreign service providers for about $20 per unit, — making a $2-per-unit profit. The carriers then resell the phones to their customers for $25 to $30, Heine explains. That represents a 70% to 90% discount on the typical cost of a new cell phone.
The recycling concept is what I’ve been talking about in the Thin Client-Thick Server idea. Get used PCs from the developed world and resell them in the emerging markets to bring down the cost of the PC to USD 100.