Live Aid, the global music event broadcast in 1985, drove home the vast inequalities in the world and inspired a young Ken Banks to action. Brought up on a council estate in Jersey, he largely failed at school and drifted into a mundane job working at a local bank.
Believing there was more to life, and fascinated by technology after teaching himself to code at the age of 13, he embarked on a journey that took him from wildlife parks in Africa to the forests of Finland, and from a university campus in California to conference stages all around the world.
After overcoming rejection and self-doubt, he created a revolutionary text messaging service that allowed people in parts of the world with no Internet to communicate with each other for free. Soon it was being used in 190 countries for a variety of functions, including helping monitor national elections in Nigeria, run healthcare networks in rural India, and keep aid workers safe from Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. His work was quickly picked up by the BBC, Economist and New York Times, among many others.
We follow Ken as he helps build a school in Zambia – where he nearly drowns while canoeing on the Zambezi River – has a close call with lions while out camping in Zimbabwe, survives an attack by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, narrowly escapes death late at night on a motorbike in Nigeria, and sleeps in a camper van to save money while on a Fellowship at Stanford University.
His passion for humanity, ecology, technology and the global environment led him to travel with UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, mess up a photo opportunity with Bill Clinton, rub shoulders with rock stars and Nobel Peace Prize-winning archbishops, and join a National Geographic round-the-world expedition on a private jet.
A social entrepreneur who has raised millions of pounds for projects launched and supported by the likes of David Attenborough and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Ken is the recipient of a string of glittering awards. In The Pursuit of Purpose, he has written an honest, poignant, and emotionally powerful book. It’s a story about struggle, finding a purpose in life, striving to build a fairer society, and discovering who you are along the way.