The power of mentoring in business creation

Riiah Durante
Riiah Durante
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
18 November 2022

It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week and we’re celebrating entrepreneurs across the world. The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean supports entrepreneurs in the region to start and grow their businesses.

The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship opened its doors in 2011 as an initiative of Virgin Unite and Virgin Holidays. Since then, the centre has been a hub for budding entrepreneurs, committed to giving the region’s most promising businesspeople access to knowledge, markets, networks, and resources.

Recently, The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, Unite BVI and H. Lavity Stoutt Community College worked together to offer an incredible entrepreneurship training and mentorship opportunity for 23 aspiring entrepreneurs in the BVI. This programme was a four-month training programme, designed to provide participating entrepreneurs with opportunities to develop sophisticated business skills.

The programme kicked off with a three-week engaging Investment Readiness bootcamp, followed by eight weeks of support via a virtual training platform and eight weeks of mentorship to help the entrepreneurs build winning business strategies.

One entrepreneur who was part of the programme is Riiah, who runs British Traders Concierge, a destination management company that provides personalised extraordinary authentic travel experiences. We caught up with Riiah Durante to find out more.

Tell us more about your business.

My company was created during the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead of dwelling on the challenges associated with travel to the British Virgin Islands – I instead created a niche that provided seamless travel to our guests and locals returning to paradise. Since then, the company diversified its portfolio to meet the growing needs of each guest, allowing the brand to be more sustainable.

The first year of operation was used to establish a positive presence within the industry, while the goals for our second year are more targeted, applying what was acquired during the mentorship programme.

Riiah Durante
Riiah Durante

How was your experience with the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship?

The Mentorship Program was literally the best programme I’ve participated in. It created a network between my business and regional and local partners that aided in taking my brand to the next level.

Each course and mentorship session prompted a ‘light bulb moment’ that reinforced and introduced key business components for ultimate success and sustainability of the brand. After the completion of the program – my teammates and I had the opportunity to partake in weekly group sessions with a qualified professional that provided support in our journey.

What’s the best part of running your own business?

Financial freedom and the ability to take control of my time.

What are the biggest challenges of running your own business?

The lack of strong networks is the biggest barrier to opportunities and ultimate success. Although I’ve created a niche and had a successful first year, it is still quite a challenge to connect to my intended target audience due to a saturated and competitive industry.

What advice do you have for other people thinking about starting a business?

Entrepreneurship is not an overnight get rich scheme. It requires the application of SMART Goals, seek business or mentorship opportunities within your region and before starting your business establish a strategic financial plan to make your dreams a reality!