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We believe every young person should have the chance to fulfil their potential and SHINE in whatever they choose to do. We promise to give something back to the communities we operate in for generations to come by creating life changing opportunities for young people.
In 2011 with your help we opened the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean. The Centre provides Caribbean nationals with extra support to help turn start-up businesses into successful enterprises - ultimately providing employment for local people throughout the region. It's supporting the development of small and growing businesses in the Caribbean with an emphasis on tourism related businesses with strong financial, social and environmental credentials. The first wave of entrepreneurs has included a boutique guest house owner, a coral reef restoration project, housing construction and cake baking. Watch this space for more of their stories!
Maxine's home, the enchanting Caribbean island of Grenada, is a great place to live, but educational opportunities are limited. Thanks to a scholarship paid for by Virgin Holidays and customer donations, Maxine has just graduated from Florida International University having completed her degree in hospitality management. Here's what she said:
"I made it! A big thank you to Virgin Holidays for ALL that they have done for me in the
past two and a half years. I am eternally grateful for everything. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
Nataana is now able to go to school, because income from our excursions near Enkerari village in the Masai Mara is being used to provide education in her community, as well as basic sanitation, running water and access to health care. It is making an amazing difference to her life.
Amswell is a student at Speyside High in Tobago. Thanks to Virgin Holidays and the Travel Foundation he has been learning how to farm fish and not only make a career for himself, but also take the pressure off wild fish stocks and protect the beautiful coral reefs around Tobago.
Johnson lives in the Johannesburg township of Soweto where opportunities are limited. With support, guidance and funding from the Branson School of Entrepreneurship he has managed to set up a flourishing internet café and provide employment for others in his community.
Sujith used to work as a beach boy walking up and down the beaches selling to tourists. After help from Virgin Holidays and the Travel Foundation, he has now become a trained professional guide, working within a group to take turns to promote excursions to tourists. He now has a higher and more stable income, a brighter future and visitors are getting better quality excursions with less hassle on the beach.
Nirosha and her sister Nishanthi are proud to be working at the Dickwella Lace Centre, a project financed by Virgin Holidays and the Travel Foundation to keep the Sri Lankan tradition of Bobbin lace making alive.
Through their work they are able to earn a living wage and secure a brighter future for their children, as well as providing visitors with the opportunity to buy an authentic hand-crafted souvenir to take home.
At Virgin Holidays we love to see young people shine in whatever they choose to do, so every year we fund a scholarship for a Caribbean student to study hospitality or tourism courses at University.
This year's outstanding candidate is Shannelle Rodney from Grenada, who will be going to study Sports, Events & Entertainment Management at Johnson & Wales University, Florida. We know this will help Shannelle develop the skills and confidence to return to the Caribbean as an important and influential leader in the Caribbean tourism industry in the coming years.
With its world famous hospitality, beautiful sights and fantastic people the Caribbean has long been a favourite of our customers, and we're proud to give something back through this very successful scholarship programme, now in its 6th year.
On a bright, sunny April morning our team of 10 Virgin Holidays runners all cruised past the finish line to complete the London marathon 2011.
Along with 35,000 other runners, they raced 26.2 miles and managed to raise over £20,000 for our Helping Youth Shine charities: Virgin Unite, The Travel Foundation, Dreams Come True, The Princes Trust and Children in Need.
In true Virgin style, they were welcomed onto 'The Boat That Rocks', our glitzy after party for some much needed relaxation and partying.
Well done all, a fantastic achievement and a great way to raise money for some very deserving charities!
Jamaican fishermen like Wolde from Bluefields Bay have had a tough time in recent years with catches declining due to overfishing off the Jamaican coast. Virgin Holidays has been working with the Travel Foundation to help create a series of Marine Protected Areas to be managed by local fishermen. The protected areas will restrict fishing in critical breeding grounds so they can restock the surroundings areas and provide a sustainable source of firs for the future. The project t helps secure the livelihoods of local communities as well as ensure tomorrow's holiday makers can enjoy the same delicious fresh fish as we do today.