Epoch Times Staff
Created: Oct 21, 2011 Last Updated: Oct 22, 2011

Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf awarded telecom entrepreneur Vasilios Zouponidis the Business Pioneer of the Year award during a ceremony at the Royal Castle in Stockholm on Oct. 17. The award highlights good examples and role models among immigrants to Sweden.

Caption: Vasilios Zoupoundnidis (second from right) receives Business Pioneer Prize of the year from the King of Sweden (left). (Zhihe Li/Epoch Times)

"I'm happy to receive this award from His Majesty. I'm happy both for me and my associates, about half of them are immigrants. This is a very encouraging award for us," Mr. Zoupounidis said.

"At the same time, it's good to get recognition for all your hard work. Athletes compete to win prizes, but entrepreneurs don't think like that. You work really hard every day to build your project. So this was an amazing surprise," he added.

The idea to start a company came from his interest in Chinese culture and his involvement in human rights' work. He felt that he needed a lot of money to be able to make a difference.

Greek-born Vasilios Zoupounidis started the company Sales Competence in 2004. It is a business partner in the telecom industry for small businesses and provides a contact person who helps a company utilize its resources in the best way.

The company has for several years been active in informing people, mainly Chinese, about the human rights situation in China. One way has been to fax information directly to China. It is a supporter of free and independent Chinese media, both newspapers and broadcasters, and has organized press conferences to bring attention to the human rights violations in China.

Mr. Zoupounidis spoke of how he practices Falun Gong and knows that those in China who also adhere to the spiritual practice are imprisoned, tortured, and killed. He reflected on how his example explodes the propaganda used to marginalize practitioners in China.

"In their propaganda, the Chinese communist regime claim that Falun Gong practitioners are ignorant, that they are people of low intelligence,” he said. “Here in Sweden, I, who practice Falun Gong, receive an award from the king for being a successful entrepreneur, and I am highlighted as a role model. Meanwhile, practitioners in China are persecuted. The lies of the propaganda are clear for all to see.”

Mr. Zoupounidis has studied traditional Chinese medicine, is trained in acupuncture, and has always been interested in Chinese culture.

His company reflects his interest in Chinese culture by helping the Swedish Falun Dafa Association to invite Shen Yun Performing Arts—the world's premier traditional Chinese performing arts company—to Sweden. The company's mission is to restore traditional Chinese culture, which is suppressed in China today.

The Sales Competence business model has proved sound. After six years, it has revenue of more than US$13 million and a goal of reaching US$60 million in revenue by 2016.

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Things have turned out well for an immigrant kid who came to Sweden as a three-year-old from the then impoverished dictatorship of Greece. Having met people who have endured imprisonment and torture in the dictatorship of today's China, he has a strong will and a heart to help.

A traditional Chinese saying says, "good deeds are rewarded by good."