Turn Phones into Loans

Recycle to Eradicate Poverty, or RTEP for short, is a innovative group out of Dallas, Texas that is turning recycled phones into microfinance loans. The unique initiative celebrates the last two Nobel Peace Prize concepts: environmental conservation and microfinance. Electronic waste like cell phones pollute the environment (up to 35,000 gallons of water per phone) and microfinance has been proven to be an effective poverty alleviation tool.  In response to these issues and as a fundraising technique The Chiapas Project (also the Grameen Foundation), a Dallas based 501(c)3 non profit founded by Lucy Billingsley, created a program called Recycle to Eradicate Poverty.

At www.turnphonesintoloans.org/, they allow anyone who has access to the Internet to get pre-paid baggies and make a difference for free.  After entering in your information, they send as many baggies as you want to your address within 3-5 business days so that you can in turn distribute them among events, in offices, to pass out, etc. Each person simply puts their cell phones inside a baggie (up to 5 per bag) and places it into their mailbox.

Using this process, they hope to beat the One Million Cell Phone Challenge that they have set for themselves (recycling one million cell phones across America would save 350 TRILLION gallons of water and allow 100,000 women, that’s right, 100,000, to rise from poverty through microfinance). Click here to watch their short video or here to watch their longer video on youtube. I know I am not alone in wishing them the best of luck in their noble goal (I am of course going to order a some extra bags to hand out to friends and family).

About J. Beshara

I was born and raised in the great state of Texas, and after university in North Carolina, I moved to work for an MFI called Kuyasa in Cape Town, South Africa (it's absolutely beautiful if you've never been!). I still live in Cape Town, but left Kuyasa to start Dvelo.org, an online microlending pilot program that will launch later this year (we hope it makes the difference in the world that we think it can!). I am also one of the founders of TheMiFiReport.com, a news source for everything microfinance, and a co-founder of the 501(c)3, The Dvelo Fund, which gives grant funding to undergraduate students wishing to research developmental issues in the underdeveloped world (ie, give passionate students the firsthand experience that is often too costly to fund themselves). Though Mykro.org has shared some of our articles from The MiFi Report before, the official introduction was made through a lovely young lady named Kayla Villnow (of Esperanza, D.R.), and I have her to thank for the introduction to Jerry and Drew's great site! JJ Beshara
  • wow, this is a cool program — I hope they succeed

  • Cara East

    Do you take old laptop computers, or the cell phone cradles?