Sir Richard Branson is a successful international entrepreneur and is Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group. Virgin is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands and has expanded into everything from air and ground travel to telecommunications, health, space travel and renewable energy through more than 200 companies worldwide, employing approximately 50,000 people in 29 countries.
In the same way he approaches starting a business, Richard works with partners on the frontlines to tackle tough social and environmental challenges with talented people and innovative approaches. In 2007, along with Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel and Peter Gabriel, Richard and a group of wonderful partners announced the formation of the Elders, a group of global leaders to contribute their wisdom, independent leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems.
Richard is also putting significant focus into Virgin Unite, the not-for-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, which unites people to tackle social and environmental issues in an entrepreneurial way. Virgin Unite supports a number of efforts ranging from the creation of sustainable healthcare models in Africa, to fostering young entrepreneurs through the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in South Africa.
Over the past 20 years, the Dutch Postcode Lottery raised almost 3 billion euros in the Netherlands to support civil society: environmental protection, the conservation of nature, human rights and sustainable development. From the very beginning the lottery supported charitable organizations both international and in the Netherlands by raising money through a lottery and informing the public about the work of the charities concerned. With its 2.5 million participants, the lottery has grown to become the Netherlands’ biggest charity lottery and it supports 75 charitable organizations.
The Postcode Lottery was also introduced internationally and is now established and successful in Sweden, England and Scotland. The mission of the Postcode Lotteries is to achieve a better world for people and nature; a world in which all people, animals and plants can live healthily, and are treated justly and with respect.
Climate change is one of the largest global challenges that we face. The Postcode Lotteries believe in an entrepreneurial, innovative and creative approach. Co-operation is the keyword. That’s why the Dutch Postcode Lottery is proud to support the Carbon War Room in its battles against carbon.
Roy Bedlow is Chief Executive and co-founder of Low Carbon. Founded in 2012, Low Carbon deploys capital into renewable energy development companies and renewable energy projects with the aim of creating as many MWs of clean, green electricity as possible. Investments to date have included projects generating electricity from solar PV, concentrated solar power, onshore wind and anaerobic digestion.
Prior to focusing on climate change, Roy was Vice President and General Manager of Palm for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Before joining Palm, Roy founded the European entity of Handspring in Geneva Switzerland. Earlier roles included European Director of Iomega International in Geneva and a variety of sales and marketing positions at Apple Computer, which culminated in European Marketing Director, based in London and Munich.
Roy is a director of Andromeda Capital, a private equity firm investing in climate change, education and communities. Roy sits on the Board of the energy efficiency technology company, enModus and the Board of Sparx, which is developing new technology to revolutionize learning.
Michael Haas is the Founder and CEO of Orion Renewable Energy Group LLC (Orion), Co-Founder of RDC Developments Ltd. (RDC), and the Founder of Alliance for Climate Education (ACE).
Orion, headquartered in Oakland, CA, was formed in 1998 and became an early pioneer in the development of low cost, utility scale renewable energy. The company specializes in the development, finance, and construction of wind energy projects in the United States. RDC, headquartered in the U.K., was formed in 1997 to help achieve commitments set by the United Kingdom for new alternative energy generation. Wind energy projects developed by Orion and RDC generate enough zero-carbon electricity to meet the annual electricity needs of approximately 1,500,000 homes. Prior to forming Orion and RDC, Michael held executive positions with KENETECH Corporation, and served as an aerodynamicist with the McDonnell Douglas Corporation.
ACE was formed in 2008 to educate and inspire young people to break through the challenge of climate change. ACE believes that achieving a safe and stable climate in our lifetime requires the ideas, action, and influence of young people. In its first four years, ACE educators have reached nearly 1,600,000 high school students in the United States.
Michael received his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and his master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Stanford University.
He spends his free time outdoors with his family.
Niels Due Jensen is Chairman of the Poul Due Jensen Foundation, the principle owner of the Grundfos Group – a world leader in sustainable pump solutions. Furthermore, Niels Due Jensen is on the Board of Directors at Grundfos Holding A/S.
Niels Due Jensen joined the Grundfos Group in 1960 and became Group President in 1978. During the following decades, Niels Due Jensen guided the remarkable growth of the business of Grundfos and its overseas expansion. Under his leadership and guidance, Grundfos became a front-runner within sustainability and energy efficiency. Niels Due Jensen has become recognized worldwide for his contributions and his proven record of combining innovation, sustainability and good business.
Today, as the chairman of the foundation, Niels Due Jensen, ensures that the business's values such as sustainability and corporate social responsibility are continuously guiding the growth of the Grundfos Group, which was founded by his father in 1945. Niels Due Jensen and the foundation also donate funds to environmental projects, social and sustainable development, research and innovation, and humanitarian projects, among others.
Aside from his responsibilities at Grundfos, Niels Due Jensen is Chairman of the Danish Council for Sustainable Business Development. He is a member of the Academy for Technical Sciences and sits on the judging committee for Danish Export Associations. He is conferred the title of Knight Commander by her Majesty, The Royal Queen Margaret of Denmark, and has been honored with the Officer Cross of the Polish Republic’s Order of Merit by the polish President. As one of the most respected business leaders, Niels Due Jensen is engaging actively in the public debate in Denmark.
He holds a B.Sc. in mechanical engineering.
Vladas Lašas studied, lectured and did research on Computer Vision at Kaunas University of Technology. He holds a doctorate in Computer Science. He presented results of his research at conferences in Japan, USA, Germany, Russia and other countries. He is co-founder and/or co-owner of several companies in Lithuania, including: UPS Authorized Service Contractor in LT - Skubios siuntos UAB, Elinta UAB - Industrial and Power Plant Automation, Elinvision UAB - Computer Vision R&D, and Globaltus UAB - Global e-Commerce.
Vladas is a TED Conference member and one of the 32 TED Patron’s worldwide. He is an investor in sustainable & renewable energy projects in Europe through GRE Holding. His area of interest includes innovation in technology, education and society. He actively take part in projects run by AmCham, The British Council, Save The Children, Rotary Club, universities and other organizations. He likes jogging, trekking, bicycling and adventure.
Mr. Strive Masiyiwa is founder and Executive Chairman of South African- based, diversified global telecommunications group EcoNet Wireless.
Under his leadership and guidance, EcoNet Wireless has, since its formation in 1993, developed into a global telecommunications enterprise with operations and investments in more than 14 countries in Africa, Europe and the East Asia Pacific Region. The company operates in the core areas of mobile cellular telephony, fixed public networks, internet and satellite services. Outside of telecommunications Strive Masiyiwa has developed a diversified pan-African portfolio of investments in areas such as insurance, financial services, bottling, infrastructure developments, hotel and safaris.
Strive Masiyiwa is a well-known international business leader who has won numerous international recognition and awards for business excellence. In 1999 he was named by the Junior Chamber International (Jaycees) as one of the “Ten Most Outstanding Young Persons of the World.” In 2003 he was chosen as one of the “15 Global Influentials of the Year” in a CNN/Time Magazine poll. In 2011, Strive Masiyiwa was profiled by The Times (UK) in its supplement of the “25 people who are leading Africa’s Renaissance.”
Over the years Strive Masiyiwa has served on many international boards and foundations, and has also been involved in numerous initiatives to promote entrepreneurship and social development in Africa. In 2003 he joined the Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees. He also serves on the board of AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Agriculture), an initiative chaired by former Secretary General of the UN Mr. Kofi Annan.
Outside his business interests, Strive Masiyiwa is also active in promoting awareness on the impact of AIDS in Africa. A foundation which he and his wife founded and fund currently provides scholarships to more than 26,000 orphans.
As one of the most respected African business leaders today, Strive Masiyiwa speaks regularly on African business at major international business gatherings, and has been regularly featured in leading international publications and television programs, among them the Economist, Newsweek, CNN, Barron’s of New York, Forbes, Guardian and The Financial Times.
Jean Oelwang is the CEO of Virgin Unite, the entrepreneurial foundation of the worldwide Virgin Group. In her previous life, Jean lived and worked on five continents helping to lead successful mobile phone start-ups in South Africa, Colombia, Bulgaria, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and the US.
Jean has long explored the overlap of the business and social sectors and has been involved in both, having worked for the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife in Australia, and in numerous volunteer roles, including a stint as a VISTA volunteer where she worked with – and learned from - homeless teens in Chicago.
In 2003 she was joint CEO of Virgin Mobile in Australia when she went to work with Richard Branson and the Virgin staff around the world to create Virgin Unite. The team works with Virgin’s two hundred businesses worldwide and other entrepreneurs to help put driving positive change at their core. Virgin Unite also works with partners to create new approaches to social and environmental issues, such as a school of entrepreneurship for young people in Johannesburg and an entrepreneurial approach to rural health transport in Kenya.
Jean and Virgin Unite have also helped to incubate a number of global leadership initiatives such as the Elders, the Disease Control Hub in sub- Saharan Africa and the Carbon War Room. Jean sits on the Advisory Board of the Elders, the Board of the Carbon War Room and on the Board of the Bushbuckridge Health and Wellness Trust.
Idan Ofer is an international business leader and entrepreneur with a track record of results spanning more than 30 years. He has achieved success globally in a diverse set of industries including energy, natural resources, oilfield services, automotive, shipping and technology.
Idan Ofer brings new technologies and innovative solutions to traditional industries and is leading expansion into new ventures in many of the most important sectors of the new global economy, focusing heavily on emerging markets.
Idan is the principal of Quantum Pacific Group, an international group of businesses that includes vast interests in international shipping, NYSE-listed ultra-deepwater drilling contractor Pacific Drilling and Israel Corporation, Israel’s largest public holding company listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Idan served as Chairman of Israel Corp from 1999 to 2010.
Idan was also the key figure behind Qoros, Israel Corporation’s joint venture with Chinese auto manufacturer Chery Automobile, to develop the first car made to Western specifications aimed at a domestic Chinese audience.
Idan Ofer’s success is built on his vision and passion as a global entrepreneur to build companies that address some of our most pressing challenges. Better Place, the electric vehicle infrastructure company, is testimony to Idan's belief in the importance of developing viable technological solutions to global environmental problems. He is also one of the co-founders of the Carbon War Room, a Washington, D.C.-based initiative focused on market-driven solutions to climate change and the development of a carbon-neutral economy.
For the majority of her career Marieke van Schaik (1970) has worked for a company – a social enterprise – that combines passion and professionalism in working for a better world. Having a continuous position at the Dutch Charity Lotteries since 2000 has enabled Marieke to make a significant contribution to its growth – developing and implementing a strategic vision on how to best spend the ever growing charity funds as well as dealing with the demands of an ever growing and more influential company.
The Dutch Charity Lotteries (Dutch Postcode Lottery, BankGiro Lottery, Friends Lottery) give 50% of every ticket sold to good causes in the fields of nature conservation, poverty eradication, human rights and social cohesion (Dutch Postcode Lottery), cultural heritage in the Netherlands (BankGiro Lottery) and health and welfare in the Netherlands (Friends Lottery). Over 2011 - thanks to the lotteries’ 3.5 million players – almost € 400 million were given away to more than 200 NGOs and cultural institutions in the Netherlands and abroad. Every year 9 million prizes are given out and a large number of advertising campaigns, television programs and events for lottery participants are produced.
Since 2009 Marieke is one of the three managing directors of the Dutch Charity Lotteries, responsible for charities, communications, finance and human resources. Holding a degree in International Relations from the University of Amsterdam, she worked as a project manager in DOEN Foundation before joining the newly set up charity department of the Dutch Charity Lotteries in 2000. After various positions in the department she became head of the team in 2006 and led it to where it is today: managing relations with hundreds of organisations receiving or wishing to receive lottery funding, implementing the application, monitoring and evaluation process and organising communications and events on charity issues.
Marieke co-initiated, conceptualised and organised the first Postcode Lottery Green Challenge competition in 2007. The Green Challenge is an annual worldwide competition for the best green business plan, the award is € 500,000. To this day, the Green Challenge remains successful. It has a high impact not only for green businesses, but also in terms of raising awareness on the potential of green businesses.
In 2009 Marieke was closely involved in introducing the ‘Dream Fund’. All beneficiary organisations that receive an annual contribution of the Dutch Postcode Lottery of € 1 million or more give 10% of this contribution to this fund. With this money (approximately € 20 million a year) the lottery challenges these organisations to apply for their dream project: high risk projects with a potentially high impact. An example is “A Breakthrough in the fight against AIDS”, the HIV/ AIDS treatment as prevention project in Swaziland.