Innovative Practice 2021 on Inclusive Employment and ICT

Growing social business in IT-remarketing with a high rate of inclusive employment

AfB is a social enterprise in the IT remarketing sector, founded in Germany and active in 19 locations across Austria, France, Germany, Slovakia, and Switzerland. AfB specializes in refurbishing and remarketing IT hardware received from companies and public institutions. The organization creates jobs for people with a range of disabilities in all areas of the company at competitive wages. As of 2019, AfB employed 200 people with disabilities, and is constantly expanding to new locations in Europe.

“We show that inclusion and professionalism are not contradictory in the highly competitive IT sector.”

Nicole Cvilak, Global ManagerAfB
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:AfB
Organisation:AfB social & green IT
Country
of Implementation
Austria, France, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland
Start Year2004
Sub-CategoryA project of the Business Sector

FACTS & FIGURES

  • In 2019, 45 per cent of AfB employees were people with disabilities
  • 475,000 IT devices were processed in 2019
  • From 2004 to 2019, annual income increased from €80,000 to €39.7million

PROBLEMS TARGETED

People with disabilities can find it difficult to gain and retain long-term employment at reasonable wages due to a lack of accessible workplaces and tasks.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

AfB collects IT hardware that is no longer needed from companies and public sector organizations and then erases data, tests, cleans, and remarkets the hardware with guarantees of at least 12 months. The refurbished devices are sold through AfB’s own shops or online retailers.

People with disabilities work alongside people without disabilities across all business areas, including administration, warehousing, sales, and development. Tasks and roles are broken down into individual steps so that people with certain disabilities who might prefer repetitive tasks can work in all process steps.

In 2020 the company has 440 employees, of whom 200 are people with disabilities. Since 2004 annual income has grown from €80,000 to €39.7 million. In 2020 more than 475,000 devices were collected and 65 per cent have been re-sold. Moreover, AfB has realized significant annual savings of raw materials (e.g., iron – 22,900 tons) and of CO2 (17,000 tons) when compared to creating hardware from scratch.

A smiling man sits at a workspace in an industrial workplace. The man is holding a tool and is working on a hard drive on the desk in front of him.

AfB employee Manuel Garcia takes apart a hard drive. ©Thomas Kienzle

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

The organization generates income through its IT refurbishments and sales. Key buyer groups are small and medium-sized companies, schools, NGOs, people from socially disadvantaged income groups, and the environmentally conscious. AfB´s financial targets are the repayment of loans, an equity ratio of 80 per cent, complete economic independence from state subsidies, and a balanced relationship among financial security, return on equity, and growth.

In 2019, AfB has expanded to Trnava, Slovakia, a region where there is a high unemployment rate for people with disabilities. By 2025, AfB aims to provide 300 jobs for people with disabilities.

FACTSHEET

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