LBS awarded major donation by co-founders of Lonely Planet

Tony and Maureen Wheeler gift £10 million for the new London Business School Wheeler Institute for Business and Development


The co-founders of publishing giant Lonely Planet have donated £10 million to London Business School (LBS), it was announced today.

This donation from philanthropists Tony and Maureen Wheeler will fund LBS’s newly established Wheeler Institute for Business and Development, which will apply business and entrepreneurship solutions to tackle the most pressing social and economic problems in the developing world.

With LBS at the forefront of world-class business research, there is a real opportunity to apply rigorous insights from business and entrepreneurship to some of the developing world’s greatest challenges, from healthcare delivery to post-conflict recovery, and from poverty alleviation to gender equality. The Wheeler Institute will create a platform for collaboration, learning, and action for experts and change makers from business, government, NGOs, and academia.

Tony Wheeler is a graduate of LBS’s MSc05(1972) programme and Maureen Wheeler was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the School in 2011. They are the co-founders of guidebook giant Lonely Planet Publications (now owned by NC2 Media), and of the international development organisation Planet Wheeler Foundation. In 2017, the Wheelers were awarded the 13th UNWTO (UN World Tourism Organisation) Lifetime Achievement Award.

François Ortalo-Magné, Dean of LBS, said the Wheelers’ £10 million donation would have a far reaching impact.

"Tony and Maureen’s gift to the School is not only very generous; it also demonstrates trust in the quality of the research and teaching produced by the School.

“The Wheeler Institute is underpinned by the fundamental idea that business can make a positive contribution to economic and social development. Business solutions can bring innovation, scalability, and entrepreneurial energy to tackling the great social challenges of our time; that’s why as a Business School, LBS is moving the goalposts on how we can turn business research into action for good.

“Why now? This next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs – the ones whom we are educating and training – know that we can and should harness the power of business for a bigger purpose; we can train this generation differently, so that they emerge as more inclusive, more courageous leaders for good," he said.

Tony Wheeler commented that: "Maureen and I have been passionate supporters of international development efforts for many years and firmly believe that business and entrepreneurship has a central role to play in this journey. It’s a privilege to lend our support to LBS and the Institute; we are grateful to be part of the Institute’s long-term efforts to alleviate poverty in those regions most in need."

Maureen Wheeler added: "Tony and I are fortunate to have travelled widely over the course of our careers. We have witnessed the impact, both positive and negative, that business has on our world’s most vulnerable communities. Our donation to the Institute fits with our belief that business has a positive part to play in development globally.

The Wheeler Institute’s co Director, Professor Rajesh Chandy, the Tony and Maureen Wheeler Chair in Entrepreneurship, said: “Tony and Maureen have again demonstrated their leadership in business through this generous gift to LBS. I have no doubt that their financial support will unlock the potential of the Institute and enable this important work to be accelerated."

More information on the work of the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development Institute can be found here.