Many years ago I wrote ‘Have lunch with Richard Branson’ on my ultimate life list. Now, we’re probably 40 or 50 lunches later and there’s no way I could have planned for our relationship to grow like it has. 

What these many meetings have shown me is that Richard and I share the belief that business is one of the most important levers for making a difference in this world – and that we don’t need to take ourselves too seriously when we use it.

Katie Hunt-Morr, director of community for Virgin Unite, once wrote the following words: “The people you bring together are extraordinary, but only able to show up that way because of the environment you create. The Maverick orbit is like no other place on earth – and I’m never happier than when I’m in it.”  I couldn’t agree more.

After founding Maverick1000 11 years ago, I’m still blown away by this network of entrepreneurs and industry leaders. Maverick1000 is an organisation committed to growing entrepreneurs and their companies, whilst bringing more joy, happiness, and greater meaning to life. We’ve worked with Virgin Unite for over 10 years and together we’ve built and nurtured projects that have made a lasting impact on this planet. 

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite. Maverick, Yanik Silver

During a recent presentation, Jean Oelwang, president of Virgin Unite, and Katie shared stories about the many incredible things that have happened throughout Maverick and Virgin Unite’s decade of partnering. They also ensured that the many years of me making them put on all sorts of outfits was repaid with four different costume changes during the presentation!

Without the opportunity to partner with Virgin Unite so many incredible and impactful results could never have been accomplished:

  • Together we helped to fund a virtual mentoring platform to support the Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship and Virgin StartUp. Over 4,211 entrepreneurs and 3,971 mentors have registered on the platform.
  • For the 2010 South African World Cup Mavericks contributed a substantial amount of funding to support the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa. This was a critical time to support small business in the region and our efforts played a part in providing over 4,000 entrepreneurs with support and more than 1,000 jobs being created.
  • In 2016 Unite BVI pitched a wild idea to us – ‘Let’s take an old WWII ship and transform it into an underwater art installation, recreational dive site, and marine life habitat’. The BVI Art Reef was co-created out of this brainstorm – and then sunk to the bottom of the ocean on our next trip in 2017. 
  • In 2017 Ocean Unite led a session called “The Ocean Is Everybody’s Business” which focused on getting business involved in ocean conservation. The session led to a huge wave of support and subsequently led to Mavericks adopting Global Goal #14: Life Underwater as the key focus for 2018. What happened next was a hands-on trip to the Bahamas with Karen Sack, CEO of Ocean Unite, and Austin Gallagher, CEO of Beneath the Waves. On that trip each Maverick member stepped up through their individual companies to leverage their reach, resources, and supply chain to make a difference and protect the ocean.
Virgin Unite, Maverick, Yanik Silver

What I love most about working with Virgin Unite is that they always encourage big ideas and exciting new projects - one such project is ‘Unleash the Kraken’. After the creation of the BVI Art Reef a group of Mavericks were lucky enough to go for a dive and snorkel around the reef last year and we were all so excited to see the thriving marine life and coral.

When we went down the ‘Kraken’ – the large octopus-like creature – was detached from the ship (after being hit by an intense underwater wave), but that just added to the undersea scene. The historic naval ship turned scuba site is now a functioning dive site and is ready for the world to explore.

After the success of the art reef project my team and I were thrilled to open up an exploratory conversation with Maverick #61, Mike Cline, and Aydika James (both of whom who were part of the reef project). A bold idea was born for a global treasure hunt to benefit the ocean. Originally ‘The Kraken’ was to have a treasure chest incorporated into the sculpture, but Mike and Aydika have dreamed up a way to make the treasure chest concept even more expansive and bigger than any of us could have imagined – proposing an augmented reality hunt, with a game layer to help impact the ocean. We’re excitedly growing this project at the moment. Watch this space to stay updated!

These are just a few of our incredibly impactful partnerships and it really feels like we are just finding our groove at 10 years. Never has it felt like we have as much to do – and together, I’m looking forward to 10 more years of impactful change and unparallelled fun. 

- This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

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