4 key ways the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship is supporting its people and programmes
The Branson Centre opened its doors in 2011 as a joint initiative of Virgin Unite and Virgin Holidays – partnering to support the centre’s training, mentoring, and mission to create dynamic Caribbean economies through entrepreneurship.
In March 2020 the Branson Centre was forced to shift focus from business acceleration to recovery management – helping entrepreneurs confront the challenges brought on by COVID-19. The team found innovative ways to continue their programmes, while keeping themselves and their entrepreneurs safe, providing a unique digital experience with access to exclusive training and coaching sessions online.
“Our bright and dedicated team remained committed to help our entrepreneurs navigate this new normal, not just from an operational standpoint, but from a workplace wellness perspective,” said Lauri-Ann Ainsworth, Chief Entrepreneurship Officer at the Branson Centre.
The Branson Centre’s 2020 Annual Report has just been released - here are some of the highlights from its year.
Supporting the creation of 14 new businesses across the Caribbean
After reviewing close to 300 applications from businesses across the Caribbean, the Branson Centre team welcomed 14 new businesses into its accelerator programme from Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad, and Barbados.
Successful transforming the offering to digital
COVID-19 hit when the Branson Centre had four months remaining of its accelerator programme. Still wanting to provide support to its entrepreneurs, the team reimagined their programme after calling their entrepreneurs and reaching out to subject matter experts, coaches, and mentors. The result was a digital experience that allowed participants to complete the programme remotely, while getting the support needed during the crisis.
Delivering public webinars
The centre ran three ‘Recovery. Resilience. Growth’ webinars, which welcomed hundreds of attendees for each session. The information and stories covered in the webinars continued to be shared across partner channels and in newsletters for the remainder of the year – showing how beneficial the assistance was across the entrepreneurial community.
Spreading the word of Caribbean entrepreneurship
Lauri-Ann Ainsworth shared her people-first approach to supporting entrepreneurs in an interview with Holly Branson. The two businesswomen discussed the importance of embedding purpose in business – in both good, and extremely challenging times.
Lauri-Ann also participated in numerous online events, including the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica’s ‘Road to Recovery’ conference, as well as the Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago’s economic panel discussion. The team were also featured in a #VirginFamily film, ‘Entrepreneurship is in our DNA’, which showcased how members of the Virgin family are going the extra mile for people on the frontlines during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.