☆☆☆ I N S P I R E - The Project ☆☆☆
Every week, I will share people's dreams, projects, passions, because I believe we can all inspire and encourage each other to create the life we really believe in. This project is called INSPIRE.
Sharing is Caring
If you are a passionate entrepreneur and you think you are making an impact in this world by living and sharing your dreams and ideas, get in touch with me so I can promote your work to inspire others to live their life their way.
contact : email@example.com
☆☆☆ Jeroen van Overbeek ☆☆☆
Jeroen is a Social Entrepreneur since 2013 and his mission is to improve access to clean water in the villages of Indonesia by supplying an affordable and eco-friendly water filtration technology.
He is the founder of two start-ups, Social ImpaKt in Indonesia and MicroBnk in the Philippines.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in Bali, Indonesia since 2013. I was born in Belgium in Roeselare, West Flanders from a Dutch father and a Belgian mother.
Spent the first 2 years of my life in my father's hometown in North Brabant province - Southern Netherlands.
My father found a job in France and we moved close to Paris just before my second birthday. So my mother tongue is Dutch but I learnt French in the kindergarten. Bilingual at a very young age helped me to learn with more ease a couple of other languages. I am fluent in 8 languages today, amongst which Mandarin Chinese and Indonesian.
I spent the first 30 years of my life in France, then moved for work to Shanghai, China in 2002 and spent 7 years there. I came back to France in 2009, moved to Dublin for 2 years - this was my last corporate job - and then back to Asia at the end of 2012. So I have traveled quite a bit in my life, for work and for pleasure. I led teams across borders and cultures over 5 continents. This has shaped me as a human being, I learnt a lot. The most important for me has always been and still is today to adapt to the local culture and to respect it. This allows me to learn, grow, as well as inspire and grow other people.
What happened for you the last couple years?
In 2011, I was Vice President Europe, Middle East and Africa for a British corporation, based in Dublin, led a business of USD 260 million with 7 factories and 800 employees. Suddenly, in 2011, I experienced a shift. I realised that I was helping companies make money, but I was not helping people. I wanted to give new meaning to my life and focus on humanist values. I realised there was a better way to use my business skills. So I decided to start my own business, which is something I actually had in the back of my mind for quite some time. I wanted to become a social entrepreneur. So I first moved from France to Singapore end of 2012 where I did some thorough research on the pressing issues in the world and how I could help tackle them.
I came across the terrifying figures of children deaths caused by drinking unsafe water. So I decided to focus on water and found an impactful, affordable and eco friendly filtration technology manufactured in Indonesia. I then moved from Singapore to Indonesia in October 2013 to promote this technology in the villages. I wanted an affordable product, so villagers could buy it. The filter costs US$ 20 and can be used for more than 2 years. After 2 years, you just replace the ceramic filter candle which costs only USD 10. Retrospectively, I must say that my thorough research was a key success factor, this water filter is an amazing and impactful product!
Water is life and I believe that access to clean water is a human right, and because so many people lack access to clean water I created a social enterprise, Social ImpaKt, to distribute safe, affordable, and high impact ceramic water filters to remote villages in Indonesia.
When did things fall into place? When did you suddenly get it?
As I mentioned, I experienced a shift in 2011. Until that time, I was enjoying my professional life, it made me who I am today, learnt a lot and absolutely do not regret it. But making a lot of money has never been the most important thing to me and I felt the desire to give back. Which in the corporate world context, and especially at C-level, was hard to achieve. One of my favorite quotes is from Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), an African-American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States :
So I embraced it, decided to move back to Asia and to act.
How did you experience this life changing experience personally?
Honestly, I have never been so happy in my life, I live on a beautiful island, Bali, with more than 250 days of sunshine per year. I save lives, I help improving the living conditions of local people and I help protecting the environment. I meet wonderful, inspiring people, from which I learn everyday. Bali is a very special place, high in energy, in spiritualism with a lot of talented people deciding to come and live here.
Which fears did you face during this process?
Well, it is not easy after 20 years of corporate experience to decide to stop, say bye and for the first time in your life, not receive your monthly paycheck. And I was earning quite a good salary. You have to start building everything again from scratch. I remembered that it was super scary to have to pay a high rent in Singapore during the 7 months I stayed there and not getting any income. But I knew it was temporary and that I would move to Indonesia soon.
Nevertheless, there were days that it seemed to be such a huge mountain to climb that I was questioning my ability to make it and to be successful. The good thing was that at the same time, in 2013, while in Singapore brainstorming about my water filter business and how to start, I met a talented Italian living there with a lot of past corporate experience. After a couple of meetings over a coffee, I decided to partner up with him and we created an innovative fintech start-up in microfinance. It is also a social enterprise, a peer to peer platform connecting unbanked micro entrepreneurs from the Philippines, the borrowers with lenders all over the world. It is an app and thanks to this app and a credit scoring system that we invented, we allow these micro entrepreneurs to get access to credit at fair interest rates, through technology, despite them being unbanked and having no collateral. Now I look at this in retrospective and I am really happy that my fears did not prevent me from pushing it through : here I am 5 years later having started two companies, living in a beautiful place, the island of Gods, doing what I wanted to do, i.e becoming a social entrepreneur.
What makes you jump out of bed in the morning?
My wonderful Spanish girlfriend Carmen ! More seriously, the feeling to do a good and meaningful job, to help others, to be inspiring for other people. And to ignite that little spark into them so that they will contribute to make our world a better place.
What is your philosophy of Life?
Be happy, positive, believe in yourself, have big dreams, visualize big things and you will achieve them. Love yourself first and you will start loving others. Be kind, helpful and the universe will make things come back to you.
What is your daily life now?
When I wake up, I do a few exercises for my back, then I meditate, prepare and eat a good breakfast before starting my working day. Then I am having a look at my agenda and I am writing down my goals for the day. I have a notebook which is called my Positive Evidence Book and I write in it the good things which have happened to me during the day.
And from time to time, I go through what I wrote in my Positive Evidence Book and it makes me feel good and understand that many good things have happened to me and that I am actually a very privileged person.
I take the time despite my busy schedule to do a lot of personal development, attend talks on different subjects, economical, spiritual, how to future proof your business, listen to coaches etc... I must say that Bali is a great place for that. It is super important to stay alert and to keep up with the latest trends. Lifelong learning.
Why did you decide to create Social ImpaKt?
Because I wanted to make a positive impact on this world. Up to now, I have already impacted the lives of more than 15 000 people here in Bali by providing them with access to clean water, helping them to improve health, to save money and reduce their use of plastic bottles. Which is much needed in Indonesia, as plastic is an environmental nightmare here. Indonesia is the world’s second largest source of marine plastic pollution after China.
I met more than 150 village leaders and visited more than 500 schools over an 18 month period in East Bali to promote the water filter in the villages and improve access to clean water. I wanted to validate a proof of concept, that it was possible to sell filters and improve health and income in remote rural areas, and I succeeded.
Which values do you want to share through what you do?
Authenticity, Leadership, Curiosity, Transparency, Compassion. Believe in yourself and never give up. Enjoy your life. Respect and protect our Mother Earth. And last but not least, take on responsibility. As Michael Korda says
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from inside me, my " gut feeling " but also from outside, from the beauty of our planet, from awesome encounters that can change your life. From going on an expedition and trying to reach a summit. Actually, as my good friend Ben says, you can compare this to life's great moments : falling in love, having a child, signing a new deal and each of these events requires great efforts, perseverance in order to achieve it.
How do you feed your creativity?
By reading books, going to talks, conferences, by taking notes and writing, by meditating and being surrounded by mother nature.
What do you think makes your Difference ? What is your Purpose - Your big Why?
I want to live in harmony. And my purpose is to give back to the communities. In Bali, Tri Hita Karana is a traditional philosophy for life. The literal translation is roughly the "three causes of well-being" or "three reasons for prosperity."
The three causes referred to in the principle are:
Harmony among people
Harmony with nature or environment
Harmony with God
So this is what I am trying to achieve here in Bali by adopting this philosophy of life.
- What’s next for you in the coming months?
My company Social ImpaKt is launching a crowdfunding campaign on Thursday September 7th on UpEffect to raise € 50,000 and provide 1,600 water filters for 3 villages and 25 schools in the area of Sidemen, Karangasem in East Bali, which will positively impact the lives of 13,000 people. This is an area where access to clean water is difficult.
You can find out more information by visiting http://bit.ly/2hMZ2JI. Do not hesitate to donate and share with your friends and social media, it is for a good cause. One of the donors to the project, regardless of the amount donated, will win a visit to the project in Bali for free, including airfare and accommodation, if our funding goal of € 50,000 is achieved.
Any advice for people who want to create the life of their dreams?
Living the life of your dreams isn't about luck. It's about choices. Dare, dare and dare. But it is important to have a clear vision of what you want to do. So start by listing the 3 things that are the most important to you.
Take time each day to STOP, PAUSE and practice the art of being grateful. It will change the wiring of your brain and nervous system with a focus on " what works ".
As Eckhart Tolle says :
And Happiness starts with you. Not your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but with you.
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Thanks for sharing your story Jeroen!
I strongly believe you inspire people to do their part to live in a better world.