Maureen Wheeler's not-so-Lonely Planet

After selling the Lonely Planet to the BBC, Maureen Wheeler left Melbourne for London. She bought a house and devoted her focus to its renovation. 

“After about 18 months or two years, I realised that I quite liked my new life,” she says. “But I missed work. I realised how important it had always been to me.”

And so she set about creating the next chapter in her life. The Wheelers have endowed a chair in entrepreneurship in the developing world at London Business School, where Tony Wheeler completed his MBA.

“There’s not a lack of entrepreneurship in the developing world,” says Wheeler, “but often at a certain level there’s a lack of ability to be able to move onto the next stage. Working out what helps people get to the next stage for their business is one of the things that this chair is trying to support.

"It never occurred to me that I could be very wealthy or that I would reach a stage in my life where I didn’t have to work. And when it happened it took a lot of working out.”

The pair also remains committed to humanitarian projects. The Planet Wheeler Foundation, which started as the Lonely Planet Foundation in 1987 but is now a much larger operation, funds about 80 projects that support the welfare of women and children in the developing world.

“It continues to operate much as it did when it was the Lonely Planet Foundation, only it’s now much bigger because we’re not tied to whatever our profits are,” Wheeler explains.

Current projects include funding a school in Tanzania, a campaign in Laos to bring basic health to remote areas, and clean water projects in Ethiopia.

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