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Sir Richard Branson’s Competition for Ethical Entrepreneurs


Screw business as usual!

By: Oxana Tsirelman, Staff Writer

Screw business as usual - Virgin United

Image courtesy of Virgin United

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding a competition that is being held this April for ethical entrepreneurs! This competition has been launched by legendary global entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. The competition is aimed at all up-and-coming business tycoons who can offer great ideas on how to “screw business as usual” along with a chance to win a “money-can’t-buy connection trip” to South Africa with Branson’s non-profit foundation, Virgin Unite.

The contest is running until April 2012 and it’s a venture that’s a part of Sir Richard’s and Virgin Unite’s “Screw Business as Usual” movement. What’s interesting about this concept is that it gives business a good name. Essentially, it inspires business to become a force for good rather than corruption. After all, “The contest encourages business to become a force for good, putting people, planet and profit at the core of what they do.”

“We’ve got a shot at really pulling together to turn upside down the way we approach the challenges we are facing in the world and look at them in a brand new entrepreneurial way. Never has there been a more exciting time for all of us to explore this great next frontier where the boundaries between work and purpose are merging into one, where doing good, really is good for business,” says Branson.

That’s not all however, as the winner of this contest will be awarded a grand prize! In fact, as part of the prize, the winner will meet global leaders who are truly making a difference on a global scale. Not only that, the winner will share ideas with young entrepreneurs at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa. The winner also gets to spend a couple of days with Sir Richard and his posse. The beautiful wildlife of South Africa at Ulusaba, Sir Richard’s private game reserve is an added bonus!


Lastly, the lucky winner will have the opportunity to talk about his business ideas with Sir Richard and be featured in his next book.

To enter the contest, all you have to do is upload your ideas and concepts online at the Virgin Unite website in a short video format or written pitches. “Already hundreds of creative and innovative business concepts are piling up from today’s ethical entrepreneurs. An entry can be a story or brief description of a business or social enterprise in action anywhere in the world. An inspiration – in words, thoughts or on film – that shows a new way of creating or transforming a business, or will create a consumer movement that will create demand for better products or services,” says the press release.

Jean Oelwang

Image courtesy of Virgin United

One example Virgin Unite’s mission to screw business as usual, is the story of Jean Oelwang. Jean is American, 44 years old and splits her time between NY and London. She’s a fantastically inspirational woman, looks great and is very eloquent. In the early eighties, Richard met Jean Oelwang who straight after university spent a few years helping to build a mobile phone company in the United States. Her job was increasingly high-pressured and exciting, but she felt something was lacking. She had always wanted to explore how to get the business and social sectors working together to help improve the lives of people who were not even being given a chance for a better life. After working for a year in a walk and live-in shelter, it was a big wake-up call for Jean to discover that in the US almost two million young people experience homelessness every year. She hadn’t realised that there were so many homeless youths living on the streets of America. Jean wanted to do something about it…

Sir Richard decided to set up a mobile phone company in Australia and tracked her down, telephoned her out of the blue and offered her a job. She had once again reached the point at which she wanted to get involved with an organisation that drove change – but her ideal job, a mix of the social and business sectors, didn’t exist. What she didn’t know was that Sir Richard had reached exactly the same place in his philosophical journey. Richard telephoned Jean and said: ‘Hello, it’s Richard Branson. We’re on. Come to London and let’s do this.’ What Richard didn’t know until much later was that as soon as she put the phone down Jean danced around the room. She had found her dream job.

[pullquote]The contest encourages business to become a force for good, putting people, planet and profit at the core of what they do.[/pullquote]

Now, Jean’s mission is to unite people to tackle tough issues with entrepreneurial  approaches. Jean leads the Virgin Unite team that work with Virgin’s two hundred businesses worldwide, plus other entrepreneurs to help put driving positive change at their core. Jean wants to break down barriers and believes that the scale of problems facing the world mean they are never going to be resolved by people working in silo. Jean’s frustration – and one of her ambitions for Virgin Unite – is that the solutions to many problems are already out in the world.

On a final note, the top five entries on the leader board will be the lucky reciprocates of a prize every month. The individuals become among the top five entries by securing the most social shares, otherwise known as votes. Besides, the top 10 ideas, which are voted entirely by the online community, will be assessed by an independent Judging Panel who will then choose the Grand Prize Winner on April 17, 2012!

Want to enter?

Individuals can upload their ideas online at the Virgin Unite website, either as short videos or written pitches. Already hundreds of creative and innovative business concepts are piling up from today’s ethical entrepreneurs. These range from the introduction of a new Virgin currency, through to the development of energy producing gyms. An entry can be a story or brief description of a business or social enterprise in action anywhere in the world. An inspiration – in words, thoughts or on film – that shows a new way of creating or transforming a business, or will create a consumer movement that will create demand for better products or services.

Some ideas include:

– Ideas around using office space more efficiently
– Ideas around recycling and renewable energy resources
– Ideas around creative innovation that helps social issues like homelessness, poverty, water, child abuse
– Ideas around beneficial healthcare services
– Ideas around improving economies and aiding small businesses
– Ideas around creating sustainable solutions for derelict areas
– Ideas around encouraging a healthier lifestyle
– Ideas around international fair trade
– Ideas around raising awareness of social issues through media
– Ideas around generating forms of finance for social projects

WHAT’S THE PRIZE?

Every month, the top five entries on the leader board – those with the most social shares (votes) – will each receive a prize. The top 10 ideas, as voted for by the online community, by 17th April 2012 will be evaluated by an Independent Judging Panel who will select the Grand Prize Winner!

THE FINAL WINNER

Firstly, the winning ideas or companies will be included Richard Branson’s next global business ‘book’, where they will be showcased as part of a growing community focused on business as a force for good. There is also a Grand Prize which is a money-can’t-buy spot on a Virgin Unite Connection Trip with Richard to South Africa in 2012 for the winner of the competition. When you join a Virgin Unite Connection Trip you get to join Richard and a small group visiting and learning from front-line leaders who are making change happen in beautiful South Africa! Then you’ll spend time with an extraordinary new breed of emerging entrepreneurs creating new business models and turning capitalism on its head. Lastly, you’ll spend a few days at Richard’s home in Ulusaba relaxing and sharing a unique time with an inspirational group of individuals. A once in a lifetime prize.

Please see case studies here for inspiration: http://virginunite.screwbusinessasusual.com/casestudies

To submit your ideas, vote, or to find out more about the Screw Business As Usual movement visit: www.virginunite.com/screwbusinessasusual

Follow Virgin Unite on Twitter: www.twitter.com/virginunite

Join the movement on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/virgin-unite

ARB Team
Arbitrage Magazine
Business News with BITE.

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