TMNZ welcomes Virgin boss

Two of today’s entrepreneur/philanthropists met informally with Auckland mayor Phil Goff on Waiheke. They discussed some ways business can help address some of the big global challenges.

Mayor Goff’s office organised the meeting between the internationally renowned self-made billionaire Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group and our own business scion and social entrepreneur Ian Kuperus, TMNZ’s founder and director.

Sir Richard had flown 36 hours to New Zealand as part of a fundraiser. Before he arrived, he made it clear, he didn’t want to solely talk business during his time here.

In typical Branson style, he arrived by helicopter together with a handful of other business people, including Brett Riley from ATEED, for an informal chat. They discussed their shared concerns, the perennial tough issues of poverty, social injustice and the environment.

Both passionate innovators, Ian and Sir Richard have achieved extraordinary things in their business careers. And they have both forged new ground by capitalising on their successes with an equally impressive commitment to philanthropy.

Ian is a strong believer in giving back to the community. Earlier this year he established Smart Donation which helps donors and charities claim their donation rebates from IRD. He has helped communities set up micro-financial organisations in developing countries. He is also keen on creating ways to limit corruption in developing countries just as Sir Richard has used emerging tech trends to limit corruption. One of Sir Richard’s current business initiatives is promoting the provision of satellites and internet access for the developing world.

Ian told Sir Richard he was inspired by his book Screw Business as Usual.

Sir Richard recognised there was much to do in the world to make it a better place. And he was impressed New Zealand has the luxury of being able to concentrate on problems like protecting native species and getting rid of the rats, something close to Ian’s heart on the island.

Sir Richard added those are the sorts of problems the world should be looking at, not the next war can we will be fighting or how can we stop people entering our country when they are getting thrown out of their own.

During the meeting, they shared their enthusiasm for sailing and the beauty of the Hauraki Gulf. They live at opposite ends of the earth with very different backgrounds, but clearly Sir Richard and Ian have much in common – including their huge commitment to using their skills and influence to help make the world a better place.

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