Christopher Ategeka –
dedicates his professional career to being what he calls an “opportunity/talent catalyst”
By: Ezi Anosike
Chris Ategeka, founder and CEO of Rides for Lives, is an engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur at heart. Chris, the eldest of five siblings, was orphaned after losing both parents to HIV/AIDS. Chris wants to dedicate his professional career to being what he calls an “opportunity/talent catalyst”—to give to others the gift that was given to him by people who could see beyond yet another child doomed by poverty and hunger to a life of scant potential. Talented young people everywhere, he passionately believes, deserve the opportunity to focus on solving the world’s biggest problems—and the world needs their ideas.
AMOIZE: Tell us a bit about your background and what made you start rides for life.
Chris: For me, the inspiration came from my own little background, and having lost both of my parents to HIV, and lacking access to healthcare was one of the biggest issues. Today, HIV is something that is just a no sense; you pop a pill a day and you’re good to go for the rest of your life. But because they didn’t have that access, they had to die too soon, so with that, I really wanted to use my technical background as an engineer and with combining those experiences and create a solution that will reach out to far more people, like my parents, who should not die from things that are preventable
AMOIZE: How did you work or get the money to build Rides for?
Chris: It started as an entrepreneurship competition at my school; I applied and I got the grant of $25,000. But I also began way before that. I was the student speaker when I graduated at UC Berkeley. On graduation day, when I gave the talk, the person that runs the competition came up to me and said, “You should apply for it,” I applied and got the $25,000 that gave me a kick to get started, and then the university invited me to give a talk at one of their big events, the Charter Gala, which is for all the alumni who had gone through the UC Berkeley system. I gave the talk and one gentleman stood up in the podium and just said, “I will give you another $25,000” just like that, and that $50,000 is basically what got me to build the initial prototype and get started. But at the same time, the projects and the products I’m building are far beyond me as a person. It’s serving a huge need and lots of people can see that. When we put our products out there, people see how many people are getting served, and because people are getting services that they would not get otherwise, people are contacting me to help. I have an army of people that keep calling me to assist.
Read the full interview in the January/February issue of Amoize, on sale now. Find out how to become a subscriber here
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