“When the human being is your main point of focus, your main value, you feel alive.” This is Jeroen van Overbeek's reason for being and the reason he founded Social Impakt.
The story started in 2010, when he was Vice-President for EMEA, working in an international corporation, managing a US$260m business. Then, in 2011, he experienced a shift . . .
He realised that he was helping companies make money, but not helping people. He wasn't aligned with his values anymore. He wanted to give new meaning to his life and focus on humanist values. He realised there was a better way to use his business skills.
So, he decided to start his own business, a social enterprise, and, two years later, moved to Asia and researched the pressing issues in the world. He was shocked when he discovered the scale of childhood deaths caused simply by drinking unsafe water.
Each year in Indonesia, 27,000 children, under the age of 5, die from diarrhoea from drinking contaminated water. Or, to put it another way, 74 children dying each day from a totally preventable problem.
So, this became Jeroen's focus. He sourced affordable and eco-friendly water filters that filter any type of water except seawater, (rain, tap, and river water) and make it drinkable. They are 5 times cheaper than boiling water and 30 times cheaper than buying branded water bottles. They reduce Co2 emissions and, as they are used as refill stations, the use of plastic bottles.
Currently, the focus is on providing clean drinking water to the victims of the recent earthquakes in Lombok and the tsunami in Palu, Sulawesi. About half a million people have lost their homes in Lombok and 400,000 people in Palu.
They are living in camps and, supplying clean drinking water is essential to their survival. Already, more than 5,000 filter units have been provided in Lombok and close to 1,000 in Palu but many more are needed.
More than 60,000 people have been positively impacted with improved access to clean water and more than 15,000 tons of Co2 equivalent emissions in the atmosphere have been saved.
Their recent crowdfunding campaign raised US$ 60,000 on Up Effect which has provided 1500 water filter units to schools and families in 3 villages in East Bali. It has positively impacted 13,000 people with improved access to clean water.
It's very simple. The focus is to just keep doing more of the same, expanding their reach into East Indonesia.
Jeroen left a high-profile position to live a life true to his personal values. He took a leap of faith. So, what's his one piece of advice to anyone thinking of doing the same?
"Believe in yourself."