Christopher Pruijsen

What are you most trying to accomplish in your work? 

With Sterio.me our aim is to make quality education accessible to all, regardless of their ability to read, write or access modern technology and the internet. With AMPION we have a triple-bottom-line social impact through the interconnecting of entrepreneurs across generations, industries and geographies - with special focus on technology driven social enterprise in emerging markets. We further aim to portray a different picture of these markets to the wider world. My broader aim across is to create a more equitable world.

What do you think sets your work apart from the work of others in your field?

What sets apart Sterio.me most is our focus on accessibility. To my knowledge we are the only provider of pre-recorded interactive voice based learning, which makes information accessible to anyone with a basic phone, regardless of internet access or literacy levels.We also have a global focus - with presence in both Africa and Latin America at the moment and a vision to also enter Asia next year. At AMPION, what sets us apart is our focus on technology driven socially impactful businesses in emerging markets, as well as our emphasis on diversity and interconnecting (emerging) markets.

What or who inspired you to get into your field? Do you have any individuals or groups of people that you credit with helping you achieve the goals you set out to accomplish?

Growing up in a low-income family without a father, both my mother and grandmother were hugely influential in teaching me initially perseverance and hard work, and later kindness and selflessness. Networks such as the Kairos Society, World Economic Forum Global Shapers and NEXUS have been immensely valuable in providing friendship, inspiration and relevant connections for bringing about both Sterio.me and AMPION.

What role has serendipity played in the turning points in your career? 

Where I am now is hugely influenced by serendipity. Just one example: If I hadn't met Magnus Petersen-Paaske at the Hackademic camp ('12) organised by Dale Stephens from Uncollege, I would not have discussed starting StartupBus Africa with him as a next step from having organised Founderbus/StartupBus in Europe. Without that initial conversation I would not have met my co-founders Dean Rotherham and Danielle Reid - and Sterio.me would not have existed.

What have been the greatest challenges that you have encountered in your career?

There have been many - funding, sceptics, finding talent, securing partnerships, and ultimately time itself have posed challenges. Initially with StartupBus Africa people thought it was cool but were doubtful of the impact, feasibility and our ability to execute. Questions like: "is it safe?", "is there talent / are there tech entrepreneurs out there?", "what is the market?" and "what will it actually achieve / what solutions will actually come out?" were frequent. It took us 9 months to organise the first edition, against all odds, and we proved to the world that yes, it is impactful on several levels, and yes, there is a huge market with incredible talent out there. We have been blessed in the evolution of this effort with many partners such as VC4Africa, DEMO Africa, Afrilabs and others, who are doing amazing work on the continent and in bringing an alternative story of opportunity in Africa into the wider world. But even in arranging these partners we had to 'prove' ourselves the first year to get the credibility needed to partner in the second.

Do you believe leaders and innovators have certain qualities that they all share? If so, what?

Authenticity.

How would you most like to change the world through your work?

"I want to make the world more connected.This manifests itself in improving access to information and education (Sterio.me), connecting entrepreneurs from various parts of the world with each other and with partners/investors/mentors (AMPION), in the sharing of the 'unheard' stories of inspiration and success across emerging markets many of which the international media has certain stereotypical images of (AMPION / documentary interest), and in my support of co-living initiatives for millenials globally.Ultimately I have a vision of a more equitable world, in which more people focus on things that matter and live authentic lives, unburdened by societal convention."

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