Thrilled to be in Tortola for the launch of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship accelerator programme in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The brilliant initiative is set to support a significant number of BVI entrepreneurs to create sustainable businesses that improve livelihoods, bolster communities and grow economies.
I was incredibly proud to open the doors of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean (BCoEC) in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 2011. By the end of 2014, BCoEC successfully trained 140 local entrepreneurs to structure and scale their businesses. Read stories about our wonderful BCoEC entrepreneurs.
The Centre has been so successful that this year we’ve decided to join forces with KPMG to expand the project across the Caribbean. The programme – which has been customised to meet the needs of BVI entrepreneurs – will use an online training platform developed by Everwise and Virgin Unite, combined with in-person coaching, workshops and events, to arm start-ups with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in business.
Over in South Africa the Branson Centre has helped many, many entrepreneurs to flourish too. For example, Brett Michael attended the Foundation Course back in 2012 and has now produced Sink, a wonderful film using four languages - Afrikaans, Zulu, English and Portuguese. The film has gone on to create 200 direct jobs and service 500 indirect jobs during the life of its production, creating employment in an industry that is notoriously unstable in South Africa.
The power of entrepreneurship can transform communities and economies, yet developing and island nations often face barriers to starting up and growing businesses. The BVI region suffers from crippling unemployment rates, and has a tendency to view entrepreneurship as ‘too risky’. The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship aims to change this through providing training, mentoring and networking that enables local start-ups to build a robust entrepreneurial eco-system.
We want to help entrepreneurs along their journey, by challenging them to think bigger and operate better. And in doing so we want to encourage members of local business communities to embrace start-ups, share their knowledge, and tap into new ideas. Our Centres in the Caribbean and South Africa have shown just how much can be achieved by linking together communities of entrepreneurs, mentors, coaches and partners. We’re looking forward to doing the same in the BVI.
The BVI have given me and my family so much over the past four decades, most notably a beautiful place to call home, Necker Island. It is therefore with so much happiness and enthusiasm that we lend our name to this initiative. We are looking forward to seeing the local community prosper.