In July, Arrow ECS announced its plan to wind down their IT Asset Disposition Business (ITAD). Following this decision, Olivier Vanden Eynde, founder and CEO of Close the Gap, has announced the incorporation of a special purpose vehicle in association with Close the Gap’s social enterprise division to acquire Arrow’s related business in Mechelen, the name of which will be changed to CTG Circular. In doing so, Close the Gap Int. safeguards a sustainable solution for end-of-life ICT-equipment for businesses in the Benelux and abroad, whilst taking another step forward as impact entrepreneur.
The circular way of thinking about society and economy will reduce the societal and environmental footprint of businesses and is the way forward today. CTG Circular safeguards the sustainable solution for ICT-equipment by extending the useful lifecycle to reduce e-waste and remarket or implement high-quality refurbished IT-devices into impact-first and purpose-driven society projects. CTG Circular will closely work together with other experienced ITAD businesses globally (as strategic partners) who share the values and vision of CTG Circular and are mutually reinforcing.
Olivier Vanden Eynde explains: “when learning about the plan of Arrow to wind down their ITAD business, I both looked for a solution to safeguard the backbone of the supply chain of Close the Gap as well as a way to take my responsibility as an impact entrepreneur. When 15 year ago, I founded Close the Gap, Arrow became one of our first key partners and believer of the model. Throughout the years, Arrow added a great deal of tangible value throughout the chain of Close the Gap, helping the organization reach its milestone of over 1 million devices that we jointly recycled over the last decade. We all believed that this crucial added value couldn’t disappear overnight.”
The acquisition will ensure and further strengthen the main business flows and services set in motion for years by Arrow’s related business in Belgium. Koen Janssens, Co-director CTG Circular, explains: “the in-house expertise, both entire staff as management, operations, audit standards, permits and certificates will be kept in place and even strengthened to provide continuity and high-quality services to the Belgian’ and international client pool looking for sustainable IT solutions.”
On Close the Gap’s request, Arrow has opened the route for this transaction and will support Close the Gap with the transition phase in the next couple of months. Close the Gap’s advisors of Deloitte and Janson have diligently advised on the transaction and performed a financial, legal and tax due diligence.
Joe Verrengia, director of global CSR at Arrow, adds: “Close the Gap is a long-standing CSR partner of Arrow, and we have faith that CTG Circular will become a crucial partner for many of its clients searching for sustainable IT-solutions.”
With the acquisition, the experience of the global market leader player will uniquely be combined with the new school impact business vision, bringing social responsibility at the heart of CTG Circular.
Alain Braeckmans, Co-director CTG Circular, says: “First and foremost, CTG Circular will have close ties to the training and tech incubator hub of Close the Gap Ltd. in Kenya. We will uniquely connect emerging and developing markets and employment to the European market. Next to that, CTG Circular will invest in a zero emissions facility and we are committed in becoming a Certified Benefit Corporation under the global BCorp standards.”
The partnership with Close the Gap will become more intense and certainly more efficient in the future. Both the not-for-profit organization as the impact business will cross-pollinate, making them both stronger and more decisive. However, both entities will keep operations and management strictly independent. Particularly, procedures dedicated to avoiding any conflict of interest will be put in place, Close the Gap will receive at least similar financial returns from its operations and CTG Circular will commit to even better conditions.
Christina Von Wackerbarth, chairperson of Close the Gap VZW, says: “we are appreciative that we found a way for all parties involved to come together around the future of CTG Circular. We are now ready to fully move forward to setting up our business hub in Mombasa, Kenya and ensuring growth of the existing business in Belgium under a new constellation. We believe that not only there is a sustainable solution, but that this is an important piece of the puzzle for the next growth phase of our organisation’s ecosystem.”
With this acquisition, the company also expresses its long-term vision for the future of CTG Circular. A plan will be made with management and all stakeholders, that at least in the first five years, if profits are made, all will be fully reinvested in the new company and its BCorp state of the art social enterprise commitment. Training and extension of work forces and systems will be a priority to implement best practice in the ITAD business. Becoming a circular economy hub with both an educational and reversed manufacturing track is the long-term vision for CTG Circular. We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.
Prof. em Dr. Wim Blonk, member of the Board of Directors of Close the Gap Int., says: “the acquisition of Arrow’s ITAD business in Belgium by Close the Gap’s social enterprise is a logic step forward in the process of transforming and extending the present organization into a future-oriented circular business model.”
Jo Van Gorp, independent board member of CTG Circular, concludes: “I am proud to become part of CTG Circular. I am convinced that the company is a leading example of how the future of circular economy and impact business should look. The social employment of CTG Circular both in Belgium as in Kenya, the future zero emission operations and the engagement of becoming a Certified B Corporation are all reasons why I want to be part of CTG Circular.”