Reusable exercise book

On track

NAME: Sam van Tol
AGE: 24
STUDY: Business Administration, master Strategic Entrepreneurship


Tell us about your product.
‘Correctbook is an exercise book that can be wiped, designed for children in the developing world. They can reuse it time and again. It’s like a whiteboard exercise book, but even better. It dries, you can touch it, then wipe it with either a pen or a cloth. It has thin pages that can be turned, with lines or graph squares on them. Almost like the etch-a-sketch boards we use to have, except in the form of an exercise book. Fun, educational and sustainable.’

Where did you get the idea?
‘Three years ago, I went on vacation to South-Africa. It was the first time I ever encountered poverty. And limited resources in schools.  Even though children do go to school, they don’t have any exercise books to write in or do quizzes in. I delved into the subject and discovered that 250 million children don’t have access to writing materials and, because of that, will probably never learn to write. If you google ‘Africa’, most results are about food and hunger. Illiteracy is low on the list, when in fact that is where development begins.’

What impact did your studies at Erasmus University have?
‘My master Strategic Entrepreneurship really motivated me. That was one group of enthusiastic, driven people who were serious about starting up a business if there ever was one. Very motivating. Also, RSM has been a tremendous help throughout. Our product is sold in the RSM Store and I get to do talks on a regular basis.’

What direction are you set on for the next couple of years?
‘Through crowdfunding and sponsoring we’ve donated some 10,000 correctbooks in Africa. So things are going well. We won the Rotterdam Starter Award last year and were elected Promotion gift of the year to go with Sprout magazine’s Best Under 25 awards. After that, the ball really started rolling. One of the larger projects for the near future is that we want to sell the product on African markets, instead of just having it donated. To make that happen we plan to collaborate with local businesses, which will allow them to put a cheaper local version on the market. That way we hope to stimulate local economies, and convince goverments of the importance of writing abilities. Simultaneously, we’re developing a new assortment for Europe in a different size and colour.'

TEXT: Sanne van der Most
PHOTO’S: Charlie De Keersmaecker

Sam van Tol