Eastlake graduate brings computers to El Salvador

November 25, 2009

By Christopher Huber

By Christopher Huber
When Brian Belcher left Eastlake High School in 2005 for Santa Clara College, he knew he wanted to make money. He set out to major in business and finance and planned to start a life for himself in the safety and security of a high-paying job in the United States.
That was his goal, then.
But during his time at Santa Clara, his whole approach to climbing the corporate ladder and making a lot of money changed, he said.
As a finance and economics student, Belcher took advantage of business immersion trips to Mexico and El Salvador, as well as studies in Spain.
“I was provided these opportunities to really be globally minded,” Belcher said.
Through those experiences, he realized the amount of good he could do with his skills in the developing world, he said. He even turned down job offers from Wells Fargo and Deloitte.
He asked himself, ‘who needs it most?’
That’s why upon graduating college last June, Belcher, 22, headed back to Central America to help impoverished families make a living and get connected to the world through micro-credit and computer distribution programs. He calls the company Computodos.
“At 22, I have a pretty strong background in business,” Belcher said.
After meting many families in rural villages in El Salvador and Guatemala, he noticed a great lack of communication with the outside world, thus stifling business opportunities locally.
“There’s not really an industry down here,” Belcher said from his office in San Salvador, El Salvador. “Central America … they need some help right now. I found it to be a pretty good time to do something like this.”
To attain the goal of equipping low-income families with high-quality, inexpensive computers, Belcher teamed up with 2008 Santa Clara graduate Sam Baker, as well as San Salvador-based electronics distributor DPG and Seattle-based computer re-furbisher Interconnections in early fall.
“What’s cool about what they’re doing is they’re doing it at a social enterprise model. It’s not free, but they make it available at low cost,” said Charles Brennick, founder and director of Interconnections, Computodos’s primary supplier. “It’s a way to get computers to people in these different sectors of society through this sort of social enterprise model.”
Just two months into the endeavor, Belcher said he and Baker are essentially volunteers, working to create a network of distributors and suppliers to fill the huge demand.
They make just enough money from selling refurbished computers for $150 each to pay rent and bills in San Salvador. He plans to approach Dell and Hewlett-Packard to form partnerships as Computodos grows, he said.
“All this is kind of coming together.” Belcher said. “Two months in business and we’re breaking out the cigars.”
Belcher and Baker sold their first 100 computers in one week in mid-November and already have orders for 100 more, he said.
“Those guys have done a lot,” Brennick said. “I think they’ll make it happen.”
Richard Belcher, Brian’s father and an English teacher at Eastlake, said the family supports the pair working abroad. They miss Brian a lot, but once they saw his passion for using his skills to improve lives in developing countries, they knew it was what he should be doing for now, he said.
“We said to him his plans were very honorable, but ‘couldn’t you do that in the United States?’” Richard Belcher said. After all, San Salvador is a dangerous city, riddled with gangs and crime. “He has this calling. It’s very sincere.”
Brian Belcher said he sticks with the no-plan plan when it comes to returning to the States. His goal for Computodos is to create jobs for San Salvador residents and he will come home when the time is right.
“We want to be able to open up and deal with our own re-furbishing center,” he said.
And when the time comes to get a job and set up a life here in America, Richard Belcher thinks his son will be ready.
“Someday there’s going to be a corporation that looks at my son and says, ‘he gets it,’” Richard Belcher said. “He’s experiencing what it’s all about out there, outside the borders of this country.”
Visit Brian Belcher’s blog at http://thesocialcapitalista.blogspot.com.
Reporter Christopher Huber can be reached at 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.sammamishreview.com.
When Brian Belcher left Eastlake High School in 2005 for Santa Clara College, he knew he wanted to make money. He set out to major in business and finance and planned to start a life for himself in the safety and security of a high-paying job in the United States.
That was his goal, then.

Brian Belcher sits with some friends in Guatemala, where he helped families through a micro-credit program.  Contributed

Brian Belcher sits with some friends in Guatemala, where he helped families through a micro-credit program. Contributed

But during his time at Santa Clara, his whole approach to climbing the corporate ladder and making a lot of money changed, he said.
As a finance and economics student, Belcher took advantage of business immersion trips to Mexico and El Salvador, as well as studies in Spain.
“I was provided these opportunities to really be globally minded,” Belcher said.
Through those experiences, he realized the amount of good he could do with his skills in the developing world, he said. He even turned down job offers from Wells Fargo and Deloitte.
He asked himself, ‘who needs it most?’
That’s why upon graduating college last June, Belcher, 22, headed back to Central America to help impoverished families make a living and get connected to the world through micro-credit and computer distribution programs. He calls the company Computodos.
“At 22, I have a pretty strong background in business,” Belcher said.
After meting many families in rural villages in El Salvador and Guatemala, he noticed a great lack of communication with the outside world, thus stifling business opportunities locally.
“There’s not really an industry down here,” Belcher said from his office in San Salvador, El Salvador. “Central America … they need some help right now. I found it to be a pretty good time to do something like this.”
To attain the goal of equipping low-income families with high-quality, inexpensive computers, Belcher teamed up with 2008 Santa Clara graduate Sam Baker, as well as San Salvador-based electronics distributor DPG and Seattle-based computer re-furbisher Interconnections in early fall.
“What’s cool about what they’re doing is they’re doing it at a social enterprise model. It’s not free, but they make it available at low cost,” said Charles Brennick, founder and director of Interconnections, Computodos’s primary supplier. “It’s a way to get computers to people in these different sectors of society through this sort of social enterprise model.”
Just two months into the endeavor, Belcher said he and Baker are essentially volunteers, working to create a network of distributors and suppliers to fill the huge demand.
They make just enough money from selling refurbished computers for $150 each to pay rent and bills in San Salvador. He plans to approach Dell and Hewlett-Packard to form partnerships as Computodos grows, he said.
“All this is kind of coming together.” Belcher said. “Two months in business and we’re breaking out the cigars.”
Belcher and Baker sold their first 100 computers in one week in mid-November and already have orders for 100 more, he said.
“Those guys have done a lot,” Brennick said. “I think they’ll make it happen.”
Richard Belcher, Brian’s father and an English teacher at Eastlake, said the family supports the pair working abroad. They miss Brian a lot, but once they saw his passion for using his skills to improve lives in developing countries, they knew it was what he should be doing for now, he said.
“We said to him his plans were very honorable, but ‘couldn’t you do that in the United States?’” Richard Belcher said. After all, San Salvador is a dangerous city, riddled with gangs and crime. “He has this calling. It’s very sincere.”
Brian Belcher said he sticks with the no-plan plan when it comes to returning to the States. His goal for Computodos is to create jobs for San Salvador residents and he will come home when the time is right.
“We want to be able to open up and deal with our own re-furbishing center,” he said.
And when the time comes to get a job and set up a life here in America, Richard Belcher thinks his son will be ready.
“Someday there’s going to be a corporation that looks at my son and says, ‘he gets it,’” Richard Belcher said. “He’s experiencing what it’s all about out there, outside the borders of this country.”
Visit Brian Belcher’s blog at http://thesocialcapitalista.blogspot.com.
Reporter Christopher Huber can be reached at 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com.
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Comments

5 Responses to “Eastlake graduate brings computers to El Salvador”

  1. Bob Keller on September 4th, 2010 8:27 am

    Fantastic to see a local Eastlake High grad setting such a high goal for himself and have an impact on the world.

  2. Chris Svensson on September 4th, 2010 9:39 am

    Very nice article about a very nice young man with a mission in life. I am proud of him.
    It is great to see such an upbeat article in a newspaper these days. Thanks.

  3. Nicky Beedle on September 13th, 2010 3:03 am

    It warms the heart to see such an enterprising and ambitious young man from Sammamish no less, use his collegiate education to give unselfishly to those far less privileged in Central America. Brian’s mission into unknown territory and unstable conditions is courageous and impressive. I hope he eventually focuses some of his magic on challenges of the underprivileged we have here within our own borders. Our struggling economy could use some of his smarts in putting people and productivity together for a successful solution to tackle illiteracy and unemployment in our more destitute states.

  4. Walter Paulick on January 16th, 2011 9:39 am

    I own a restaurant in San Salvador called Mango’s I need a restaurant computer for sales maybe you can help us. My wife Diana is there and our cousin Edward our phone # is 2223-0050 cell 7280-8357. Give then a call thanks

  5. william l rambo on August 10th, 2011 6:08 am

    what your restaurant needs is a whats called pos. (point of sale) computer.they have a slightly different make up than a computer.you should be able to pick one up used in good shape for $150.00 on craigs list

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