I travelled to Jamaica this week to celebrate the relaunch of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean. The sun was out, the team were incredible, and the vibe at the new Kingston centre was
exhilarating. As always, it was magical to be back in Jamaica.
Such high levels of enthusiasm are what I’ve grown used to in the Caribbean. Ever since Virgin Unite launched the Branson Centre in Montego Bay, back in 2011, I’ve been continually charmed and inspired by the centre and its entrepreneurs. The spirit and energy of the Caribbean is like nowhere else in the world - this place buzzes with entrepreneurial spirit.
We’ve moved the Centre to Kingston to be closer to the thriving scene in Jamaica’s capital. With our companies, Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic, active and engaged across the region, we’re committed to giving back and growing the local economy in many ways.
The honourable Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, attended the launch with us - a tremendous expression of his commitment to entrepreneurship in the Caribbean. The Prime Minister and his government truly recognise entrepreneurs as agents of growth and understand the need to create a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports young minds.
The Prime Minister and I discussed the state of the current business landscape, the successes achieved over recent years, and what we believe must now improve to raise the country’s GDP and support new business ventures of the future. Ongoing support from both government and business is crucial to delivering entrepreneurs in the Caribbean with what they so desperately need – accessible investment options, business support, mentoring and global growth opportunities.
As we walked around the showcase of Branson Centre entrepreneurs, listened to their business stories, saw the products (and, importantly, ate their delicious sorrel!) I was filled with enthusiasm about the next chapter of the centre’s journey.
During the event, we held a panel all about the power of connection – something I think is central to the life and success of every entrepreneur. As I said at the event, in this day and age, the world is one world. As business people you should try to think globally as much as you can. Try to make sure your brand is gonna work anywhere in the world.
Now, more than ever, we must act as a global community and encourage all sectors to work together and support each other. In a time when some people are trying to build walls, businesses and entrepreneurs must break them down, and open doors.
Entrepreneurs can solve some of Jamaica’s, and the world’s biggest problems. We must find bright and innovative thinkers, give them the support, encouragement and the community they need to build strong and socially responsible businesses.