What do you know now that you wish you'd been taught at school?

Susie Ma on the Strive challenge, talking to another participant
Image by Adam Slama
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 15 August 2018

The Virgin Strive Challenge is fast approaching and one of my favourite things about the challenge is meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people as we prepare to strive together. We all come from different walks of life and have different motivations behind taking part in the challenge, but one thing unites us; a passion for creating change.

In the lead up to the challenge I want to introduce you to some of the amazing people taking part. Next up is female entrepreneur, Susie Ma.

Two cyclists high-five on the 2018 Strive Challenge in Morocco
Image by Adam Slama

What about STRIVE are you most 1. nervous about and 2. excited about?

I’m most nervous about hurting myself! It’s no secret that I’m accident prone, and have fallen off my bike plenty of times while training, so I’m focussing on coming back in one piece right now! I’m most excited about seeing the positive effects the money we raise will make to the lives of young people.

What do you know now that you wish you'd been taught at school?

The importance of communication. I wish we had learnt more about verbal reasoning, how to articulate our thoughts, and the art of persuading others to see our point of view. Communication is key; I learnt this serving customers when helping my parents on their market stall as a child, and I feel as though this experience has gone a long way throughout my life. Words are a form of self-expression, and help you to form relationships – it’s so important. 

Life is made up of many challenges; some physical, some emotional, some social and some professional. Please can you tell us what has turned you into the striver you are today?

To me, a striver is someone who’s relentlessly determined to reach their goals, which is something I’ve seen in my mum since I was a young age. I look up to my mum so much; she has shown me it’s possible to choose my own path in life, and if you want something enough, you can defy the odds and make it happen.

Richard, Holly, Sam and their cousin Noah
Image by Adam Slama

My mum and I moved to London for a fresh start when I was 13, with no safety net in place to support us. It wasn’t long before we were struggling to make ends meet, so, I took a leaf out of her book and started my business, Tropic, when I was just 15. It was out of necessity, and certainly a risk, but I was fuelled by my desire to stay in the UK to make a better life for my mum and I

I had helped my parents on their market stall since I was six years old, and my experience gave me the confidence to take a leap and set up a business of my own. I made a batch of a homemade body scrub from a family recipe, packaged it in jam jars, and set up shop next to my mum’s stall at Greenwich Market. The first day at the market I sold out of my body scrubs, and made enough money to pay a month’s bills, so I continued.

By the time I was 17 I had bought my mum and I a house, and funded my way through university, all because of Tropic. There were times when we first moved to London that I wondered if we’d make it, but my experience has proven that you’re stronger than you think you are. No matter what life throws at you, you can get through it.

Donate to support the Virgin Strive Challenge and the people taking part

Find out more about the work of Big Change