Jean Oelwang Chief Operating Officer, Virgin Unite
We define success on all different levels. Again, we define success at a level of, "What kind of global change can we create that's more systemic change?" "What kind of success we can drive within the business sector -- driving a force for good as with a business?" And then, "What kind of front-line successes that we have?"
So, if you take just the front-line successes first, some of the things that we're really excited about are, "How do you use job creation as a way to lift people out of poverty?" So, a success to us has been piloting these Branson Centres, and seeing how we can take these young entrepreneurs and help them scale their business. So, an example of that is this incredible entrepreneur, named Musa, had a idea that he put a shipping container into a township in South Africa, so that young people would have a place to go, so they could use the Internet, play games, and he started this as a business. So, we started working with them, and now, they've scaled their shipping containers to, I think it's 10 now. They're employing, I think, something like 30 people across those 10 shipping containers, and Musa now has an opportunity to go to Harvard this summer to go through one of their scholarship programs. So to us, that's success where we have helped facilitate and helped empower Musa to create jobs for South Africa, to help create income for those people, and also create a safe place for the community to have young people go to after school. So, that's more of a front-line example.
A success in a business would be something if you watch a business -- like we've been working with Virgin Mobile here in the U.S. to look at how they can put driving change at their core. The thing that they really focused in on -- is something that their customers or staff, and we, felt was a gap in the U.S. -- was there's 2 million homeless teenagers on the streets in the U.S. So, how can Virgin Mobile use everything they have to help stop that and fight that issue? So, they've put at their core, through everything they do, how they can do it: with their text messaging to raise money for great organizations on the front line; use all their communication channels to tell the story about homeless young people in the street; use their lobbying power to get the government to actually make November Teen Homeless Month, which is what they enacted a few years ago. So to us, seeing that awareness of that issue has raised significantly in the last couple of decades, and we've been able to help facilitate all these great, front-line partners to help thousands more homeless teenagers on the front lines get help and get opportunities. Ultimate success in that one would be stopping teen homelessness in the U.S.
Then, on the wider, global leadership initiatives, success is something, for example, of incubating a project like The Elders and that's now an independent organization that we support with a host of partners. Last week, they were in North and South Korea, helping to negotiate peace between those two areas of the world. They also are in the Ivory Coast helping to set a framing for peace as we go into this new government. So to us, success in that particular initiative is just this incredible group of world leaders who are committing their time to helping make sure that conflicts are resolved peacefully.
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