Flying high for charity
- By Katherine Scott -
- May 07, 2012
Virgin Unite has the rare ability to bring an inspiring network of people together, uniting them in a shared passion for greatness, whether it’s helping young entrepreneurs succeed in business, building new crèches or simply putting great minds together to re-think the way we contribute to the world.
Last year, my partner Greg and I were lucky enough to go away with Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Unite team on their South African connection trip to Johannesburg and Branson’s Ulusaba Game reserve. It was a great adventure and has inspired us to ask ourselves, how we can also ‘Screw Business as Usual’?
A few years ago we set up The Knowledge to Action Foundation, helping improve the quality of life for disadvantaged children. Our company, Knowledge to Action, is Europe’s largest trader-coaching company and specialises in teaching people to trade foreign exchange and stocks. We employ 150 people worldwide with offices in London, Cape Town and Sydney. The company’s success has been highlighted by winning a finalist position in the 2010 London Excellence Awards and most recently claimed 49th place in the 2010 Sunday Times Fast Track 100 Awards.
Like many business owners we fanaticised about making a difference, creating a legacy and making all this hard work have some sort of greater impact on the world. The only challenge was that we were so busy working that there seemed to be little time to do anything else. The question Sir Richard asks in his new book, ‘Screw Business as Usual’ is - how can we make doing good better for business?
We needed to think differently as business owners, to embed charity into our business plan so it becomes an integral and symbiotic component where one needs the other to succeed, this way the charity is not the first thing to get cut in times of economic downturn. We have used our expert knowledge of trading the Forex markets to create a novel system that generates money for charity. All the way we have thought outside of the box and asked ourselves, how can we build a system that helps the company and the charity simultaneously?
Our greatest fundraising vehicle is our annual ‘Flying Trader’ project where Greg trades from a helicopter high over London sending his trade calls down to our trading floor as hundreds of clients follow his trades simultaneously from our trading floor and over the internet. Each event accommodates 50 traders who trade over 6 hours assisted by Greg and our best coaches. We like to make the charity days really fun and fill the room with balloons, play upbeat music and invite the heads of the charities to say a few words at the end of the day over a glass of champagne. Last year we raised over £160,000 and in our recent trip to The Ubuntu Education Fund we were able to see how that money was already making a difference.
The money we raise comes from ticket sales to attend the events and our broker ETX Capital gives all brokerage commissions to the Foundation. It is a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship. The more our clients trade, the more money they earn themselves and the more commission they generate for charity. The broker is also happy as we are increasing the volume of people regularly trading and we encourage our clients to use ETX as a broker because of their charitable donations. Our delegates also form a close and more trusting relationship with us because they can see we are not only teaching them to trade but we are also helping charities in the process.
Last year’s Flying Trader funds were used by Ubuntu Education Fund to help launch their Early Childhood Development Programme (ECD) in Port Elizabeth, a project aimed at enabling disadvantaged children under five to enter primary schools with the same skills as their peers in London and New York. The ECD launched in February 2012 and has already given 43 children the opportunity to be involved with reading, writing, singing, art, movement and story-time, three days per week.
Proceeds from our charity days went towards supporting the Barnardo’s ‘Hub’ project. ‘The Hub’ is a constructive workshop for youths based in East London and provides training and education for young people who are care leavers, young people who are disadvantaged by poverty, disability and abuse. They are then trained within carpentry, plumbing and decorating with the students then receiving nationally accredited qualifications and the opportunity of contraction apprenticeships. The £60,000 they received through The Flying Trader allowed them to keep their doors from closing.
This year we are aiming to raise £250,000 for our chosen charities, as well as continuing to support Ubuntu Education Fund and Barnardo’s, The Knowledge to Action Foundation will also be working with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite and Pride ‘n Purpose charities to build a new crèche in one of the rural villages just outside Ulusaba; the goal being to complete the new school by the end of the year.
On the 26th April, our first Flying Trader event of the year raised £27,000! We will be holding another 5 events over the summer. Visit www.theflyingtrader.org to join in and watch Greg as he trades from the skies as the Flying Trader.
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