Jeroen van Overbeek is the founder of Social Impakt a social impact enterprise. Previously he spent over twenty years working in manufacturing in Europe and Asia. He then decided he wanted to change track and switch to making a social impact. The mission he chose was to bring clean water to South East Asia specifically Bali in Indonesia.
Now, due to natural disasters in the area he finds that as a social entrepreneur the need for his product has increased drastically along with an expansion of volumes and the area where his product is needed
“A problem which is 3, 4 times the magnitude of the Bali issue, because there’s about half a million people, close to half a million who have no roof right now and that will last for a while, They are reconstructing now.”
Being an entrepreneur in normal times is difficult enough but in an environment where nature is unforgiving the stresses are greater.
“Try to get more sleep. You trying to get as fit as you can in the conditions. Just give you and example, because of the Lombok earthquake I scaled my business 30 times in the period of two weeks.”
In this conversation we get a brief insight into the world of the social entrepreneur at the sharp edge where nature is unforgiving.
As well as:
- The journey to Bali to become a social entrepreneur starting from a career and experience in general management in manufacturing, food, pharma, selling products B2B internationally leading to a final role handling 3.5 million and overseeing a thousand people.
- The formation of reasons behind the change in wanting to start a business based on his experience, knowledge and a desire to return to Asia and work on something with a social value
- The first ventures which were starting two companies in 2013, one a peer to peer lending micro-finance social enterprise and the other supplying clean water to rural communities
- The emotions and challenges of going from corporate to social impact from a regular salary to no salary and the challenge of living off savings with the goal of reducing the mortality rate of children by providing clean water.
- And so to Indonesia where finding the right, safe, affordable product with local production facilities that provide an effective clean water solution to the people of Indonesia was important.
- The benefits of attending the Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh, Scotland with 1500 hundred other social entrepreneurs enabling Jeroen to make connections, exchange ideas, and gain happiness with the knowledge that the social impact community is doing good work all over the world.
- Witnessing corporates and social enterprises working together to expand the social impact ecosystem though procurement through a diverse community of delegates from all over the world interested in developing the social enterprise ecosystem.
- Including innovative initiatives at getting marginalised people and ex-prisoners back into the workforce.
- The event helped to overcome the loneliness of being a social impact entrepreneur that specifically offered the opportunity for future cooperation and collaborations with like minded entrepreneurs working on clean water provision in the future.
- Facing the practical reality of frequent recent disasters in the region. The first being the eruption of Mount Agung, which saw his company supply 1200 units in a three month period, the second the Lombok earthquake in August and then the third and most recent Tsunami in Sulawesi.
- Working-out the cost of supplying the product during a disaster with balancing being a for profit company with social entrepreneur that tackles environmental social problems of access to clean water which require that company costs are covered. Compounded by a personal responsibility to reduce margins further and to supply with the help of donations.
- Sourcing donations from private people, organisations, friends, family and crowd funding pages.
- At this stage selling the filters for four and a half years a typical day before the disasters consisted of the proof of concept phase by making sure the product could be accepted, used and paid for by people living in Karangasem one of the poorest remote areas in Bali. This was achieved with a local colleague for two years by meeting with the heads of the villages, the woman of the villages and others and others to introduce and sell the product.
- The process of education of the local population about what the product is, how it works, and to trust it is safe and was achieved by meeting with the influencers, which included Hindu religious leaders and eventually provided income for a local network of 30-35 women resellers.
- The expansion into southern Bali, which had a greater population in towns and cities for example Denpasar and Ubud and the effect of recent disaster on Jeroen and the business leading to the need to set up a new team of 5 volunteers, a new storage in Mataram in Lombok with volunteers. And realising that the operations and storage was the main challenge taking about one week.
- Mention of a planned visit to Lombok to check on what’s going on in the camps, monitor the filters and how they are being used.
- Learning that the success of the operation is built on setting up a system that provides who wants, who can, who has paid for the filters, who can pick it up, where the filters are going and tracking where they are.
- Understanding the cost of being a one man operation on a physical and personal level comes in the form of your own life, time but this a choice that is consciously made and requires the discipline to try to get more sleep, keep as fit as you can in spite of the conditions. While a the same time meeting the incredible feat to scale the business thirty times in a period of two weeks.
- The toll on physical health that it takes as well as the required effort to get sleep also requires not to work too hard and also to keep the weekend free and to continue personal physical activities like running and a passion for dancing.
- The benefits of having a good supplier located manufacturing the filters in Bandung , West Java which is a city about 2 hours East of Jakarta and transported overland by truck to either Bali or Lombok
- The ease in the ramping up of production was enabled by Nazava, a ten year old company’s experience of previous disasters. Nazava met the challenge of drastically increased demand in a matter of days and produced a pleasure that working with the supplier that is ready to support and meet the demand for the product when disaster strikes.
- Local government or Government support is vital when disasters strike and while Jeroen and Social Impakt carry out work with the support of public and private donations government help coming in the form infrastructure by getting water to the camps is critical step.
- In the case of the most recent disaster in Sulawesi Jeroen and Social Impakt may be working with the Health Department and are currently looking at options to provide a valuable service.
Email: Jeroen van Overbeek
Linkedin Jeroen van Overbeek