Photo: Shayan Nahrvar/Raise5
When Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson asked entrepreneurs to send him world-changing business ideas, a four-person startup in Chicago jumped at the chance.Michael Tang’s company, Raise5, was only a few months old then. It is an online platform where people can buy and sell services, kind of like Craigslist, that launched in February 2012. But instead of keeping the payments, the service providers on Raise5 donate the money to their favourite charities.
“We help people who wouldn’t normally be donating to give money to causes,” Raise5 tells Business Insider.
Tang and his partners, Shayan Nahrvar, Hassan Hassan and Jesse D’Andrade beat out 500 other applicants and won a trip to South Africa with Branson himself.
“Raise5 is simple, entrepreneurial and it works. It stood out to me as a perfect example of how anyone can think differently to affect change,” Branson has said of their startup.
Nahrvar, Raise5’s Chief Development Officer, left on March 1 for Africa and visited two places, Johannesburg and Ulusaba. Branson’s Virgin Unites team does a lot of work with emerging entrepreneurs there.
He documented the experience and shared it all with Business Insider.
Fresh off the plane from Chicago! At London's Heathrow Airport in the Virgin Terminal. Next stop: South Africa.
Landed in Johannesburg at a small airport. It was not your typical airport, it had a very homey cafe atmosphere.
I first met Richard at the Bhubezi Community Centre. Once a year The Starkey Foundation comes to this Virgin Unite-supported centre and they spend time helping provide hearing aids to around 300 people who have lost their hearing. It was an emotional and inspiring experience to see lives being transformed right in front of me.
After visiting the Bhubezi Healthcare Clinic, we embarked on a game drive to see the wildlife and natural beauty of Ulusaba. It wasn't hard to spot this tall giraffe.
The morning after our safari we met for breakfast served at Richard's game reserve. Fresh juice and wildebeest sausage were on the menu.
I witnessed the development of a new school built by Pride n' Purpose, an organisation supported by Virgin Unite. I skipped rope with some of the children.
Posing in front of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship where I was invited to judge and mentor local entrepreneurs.
In the field meeting another Branson Centre Entrepreneur, Aaron Langa, of AML Bamboo Products. He repurposes scrap materials into well-crafted baskets.
I had the opportunity to visit, Karabo, at the Institute for Human Evolution at Wits University. At 2.5-million-years, Karabo is one of the oldest known hominids.
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