Supporting mangrove conservation efforts in the Caribbean

BCoe_Virgin Voyages
Image by Carlos Pita
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
25 July 2022
Virgin Voyages is committed to ‘Creating an Epic Sea Change for All’ and on Richard Branson’s recent birthday voyage a series of community empowerment activities and eco initiatives took place to honour that commitment.

Virgin Voyages, in partnership with the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, hosted a three-day small business boot camp, empowering local business owners and inspiring entrepreneurs in the Bahamas. 30 entrepreneurs received hands-on training on business modelling and participated in a one-on-one consultation with experts from the Branson Centre on how to overcome their specific business challenges.

During the boot camp, and while the Virgin Voyages cruise ship, Scarlet Lady, was docked in Bimini, Richard Branson made a surprise appearance and shared his own entrepreneurial tips. “Don't be afraid to fail,” he said. “The key to entrepreneurship is persistence - it's important to never give up. Lean on the network of people around you - including those beside you in this room today.”

Image by Carlos Pita
Image by Carlos Pita

The goal of the event was to equip small businesses for growth and success in Bimini. “This three-day training event is the latest demonstration of our commitment to the incredible island of Bimini. We want to ensure that the local economy benefits from increased tourism to the island and the community gets excited when they see our ships in port,” said Jill Stoneberg, Virgin Voyages’ Senior Director of Sustainability and Social Impact.

In addition to driving small business, Virgin Voyages also teamed up with Virgin Unite to create a ‘Sea Change Fund’, supporting mangrove forest restoration projects in the Caribbean. During the birthday voyage, sailors were invited to donate to help support and scale partners working to protect this vital ecosystem.

Mangrove forests support coastal resilience against natural disasters. They also play a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change while supporting biodiversity by providing essential habitat for birds, fish, and other animals.

“Working with Virgin Unite, we believe this is a start of an exciting programme of work that will create a sea change in mangrove conservation across the region and act as a blueprint for other parts of the world,” Jill says.

For more information on Virgin Voyages’ commitment to the planet and local communities, visit its sustainability page.