Owner of SCR Michigan sending computers to charity in his native Ghana
Published: Sunday, August 22, 2010, 6:59 AM
KALAMAZOO — Stephen Opoku said he’s found relative job security as a computer repair technician and owner of SCR Michigan LLC in Kalamazoo.
Even in a down economy, Opoku said people are still purchasing computers, which have become an indispensable part of daily life for the majority of individuals in the United States.
“People rely on their computers heavily, even people who are looking for work who use them to look for jobs and print out their resumes,” Opoku said.
In 2008, Opoku, 28 and a native of Ghana, opened his computer repair business located in the rear lower level of a building at 3825 S. Westnedge Ave. which houses Art and Soul Tattoo on the upper level. A sectional sofa and coffee table displaying a Bible and other inspirational reading materials are the dividing line between the reception area and a work space which includes countertop-height wooden tables surrounding the walls containing computers in various stages of repair.
On any given week Opuku said he is working on an average of 15 computers.
“I provide all kinds of comprehensive services such as data backup, data retrieval and network support,” Opoku said. “I’ll repair on-site or pick up and deliver when it’s done.”
He said he spends a lot of time educating his customers about the importance of keeping their computer systems up-to-date and virus-free.
Unlike many young people who have grown up in households where computers are as commonplace as a microwave, Opoku was raised in a hut without a radio, television or running water in one of Africa’s poorest countries.
SCR Michigan LLC
What: Full-service computer repair shop that also offers customer education on a variety of software programs. Opened in 2008 by Stephen Opoku.
Where: 3825 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo.
Contact: 269-492-5727 or www.scrmichigan.com.
“Given these conditions, we could never even think about using a computer,” Opoku said.
He was able to leave Ghana and receive an education when he accompanied his father, a retired United Nations peacekeeper, on various missions. At the age of 12, Opoku said he got his first exposure to computers and two years later had learned to build one from the keyboard on up.
While attending a high school in Damascus, Syria, Opoku met a recruiter from Western Michigan University. In 2001 he settled in Kalamazoo and began taking courses at WMU while working for the former National City Bank, now PNC Financial Services Group Inc., providing information technology and technical support.
To save money Opoku left WMU and enrolled in online courses offered through Franklin University, based in Ohio, which had a partnership with the bank. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, Opoku said he turned his attention to opening his own business.
Cash flow, he said, has been a challenge.
“My business is like any other business,” Opoku said. “Everyday is a new challenge with new obstacles.”
However, he said, his obstacles are nothing compared to what the people in his native Ghana face.
“Africa has a lot of problems,” Opoku said. “But, I’m also struggling to make ends meet. I can’t afford to send money or food back home, but I can afford to help them get computers.”
In July, SCR Michigan entered into a partnership with the Global Host Project to provide computers to the people of Ghana. Workers with Global Host are in the process of building a center which will offer training to teachers who will bring what they learn to their students.
“The average person there (in Ghana) makes $140 a month. They can’t afford computers,” Opoku said. “So I’m trying to help my country get ahead in technology.”
Opoku said he sees the business he has been able to develop as a gift which he would like to use to help the people he left behind.
“Right now we have had close to five donations,” Opoku said. “We’re looking for donations of computers and monitors, flat screens or laptops. It doesn’t matter if they have parts hanging out. I’ll fix it.”