How are you going to change the world? Leontine Vreeke’s 500 words.

In the first entry by our competition winners, Leontine Vreeke of iRaiser explains how she is going to change the world.

Written by
Leontine Vreeke
Added
August 30, 2018

Introduction

Earlier in the year SOFII launched a competition asking a simple question: ‘how are you going to change the world?’. This has given friends and readers of SOFII the chance to inspire others by sharing their dreams and ambitions to make the world a better place.

SOFII received three entries that we just couldn’t choose between, so we’re delighted to share them all with you over the coming weeks. First up is Dutch-Surinamese singer and champion of nonprofits Leontine Vreeke, who shares how a trip to India made her want to be a world-changer.

Growing up in a small town by the sea, living on the wrong side of the tracks, I promised myself as a young, black and bright girl that I would escape that place filled with poverty and failure. Being successful is a choice, I told myself, and I chose to become successful in the corporate world of IT. As I climbed the steps of the career ladder, increasing my pay cheque every year, my disdain for people not succeeding in life increased as well. And then I was given the opportunity to go to India for a management course to work on a real life business case for a federation of women breeding chickens in rural India.

A girls' class in India

After a bumpy bus ride of four and a half hours, passing cities, villages and soon nothing but trees and woods, I found myself in a small hamlet. I stood in the middle of the settlement of 30 wooden houses and saw poverty. Real poverty. Children covered in dirt. Men sitting around doing nothing. Women working in the fields, breeding chickens to provide for their children; striving for a better future for their families. Trying to take that first step on the ladder. Right there and then it hit me. No matter how smart you are or how bright, living in this place would mean having to walk four hours to the nearest primary school in the morning and four hours in the afternoon to get home. Very hard to do for small boys but impossible for girls. You’re trapped. With all the talent in the world, if you are not in an environment that will enable you to develop, train and use your talent, you’re lost. Success is not a choice. It takes hard work, talent, the right conditions and luck.

I looked at the dirt road leading to the hamlet, saw the green fields, the trees waving in the warm breeze and I saw the women: fierce women. And I made a new promise to myself. I will work on creating the right conditions for every individual to have a chance in life, to be empowered, to be who they want to be. I will contribute to a positive impact in life.

It will not come as a surprise that not long after that visit to India I left the corporate world to work as a consultant in corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

And now I work at iRaiser. It is software. It is nonprofit. It is about empowering others to increase their positive impact on society.

Every time I talk to a nonprofit, presenting our SaaS solutions (software as a service), showing them how they can raise more money, more visibility and more awareness for their cause with less effort, I want them to buy our solution. But it is not just about selling. It is about contributing to the positive change in this world. I see women, working the fields, breeding chickens, moving forward.

To add a little bit of a reward we offered the complete collection of Tiny Essentials from White Lion Press for the winners (see below). 

The Tiny Essentials series from White Lion Press.

Though the original competition is closed you can still submit your 500 words on how you’re going to change the world. If it's good, White Lion Press may even still send you a prize. You can read all about it in John Watson's letter here.

About the author: Leontine Vreeke

Leontine Vreeke

Leontine Vreeke is a biracial Dutch Surinamese singer, writer, key note speaker, member of the city council in Rotterdam with a passion for nonprofit and CSR who happens to enjoy working in sales and marketing in a tech environment. In the past she has worked for Oracle, Dell, ADP and she has had her own consultancy agency specialized in CSR and Sustainability. Currently she works for iRaiser as a sales consultant working in the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK enabling nonprofits to raise more money, more visibility and more awareness for their good cause.

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