Sir Richard Branson is Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group. Virgin is one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands and has expanded into many diverse sectors from air and ground travel to telecommunications, health, space travel and renewable energy through more than 200 companies worldwide, employing approximately 50,000 people in 29 countries.
In 2004, Richard established Virgin Unite, his non-profit foundation. It mobilises the talent and resources from across the Virgin Group and beyond, to tackle tough social and environmental problems in an entrepreneurial way. It is built on the belief that, the only way we can address the scale of the challenges facing the world today is by revolutionising the way businesses and the social sector work together – driving business as a force for good. Richard has been working closely with Virgin Unite to bring together the right partners to help create new global leadership models to address conflict, climate change and disease.
Richard and his close friend, Peter Gabriel, had an idea about the need for a new leadership model for our ‘global village’. Inspired by the role that elders play in traditional societies, as a source of advice, wisdom and experience, they took the idea to Nelson Mandela and were thrilled when he agreed to help bring a group of ‘global elders’ together. Founded in 2007 with the support of Virgin Unite and a great group of partners, The Elders comprises ten visionary leaders including Graça Machel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan and President Carter.
In 2009, Richard brought together a group of the world’s top entrepreneurs to initiate the Carbon War Room. The vision is to mobilise capital, innovation, expertise and international collaboration to increase the effectiveness of climate change efforts already underway and to focus on filling any gaps. These keen entrepreneurial minds will work together to help speed and scale solutions that will deliver a low-carbon economy.
Richard and Virgin Unite also support a number of initiatives that lead to economic empowerment and healthy communities. These initiatives range from; the creation of sustainable healthcare models in Africa, to supporting young entrepreneurs through the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in South Africa, to creating opportunities for disadvantaged young people in the US and the UK.
Richard is married to his wife Joan and they have two wonderful children, Holly and Sam.