Wanted: The Caribbean Richard Branson

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group and Virgin Holidays, the UK’s number one long haul holiday company have announced that applications are being accepted at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship Caribbean powered by Virgin Holidays.  

The Centre, which will open this September, will support entrepreneurs to create and grow small businesses, ultimately generating jobs for the region. 

The Branson Centre’s mission is a comprehensive one. Rather than attempting to teach ‘entrepreneurship’, it will seek to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with practical business skills, access to coaches to offer guidance, mentors to share their experiences and access to financing opportunities to enable growth. In doing so, it will support the sustainable development of small businesses and jobs in the Caribbean.  

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, said: “Entrepreneurs are the life blood of major economies and can help create thriving communities that in turn generate jobs. Do you have what it takes, if so we would love to hear from you.”  

Virgin Unite and Virgin Holidays have identified the following ten qualities that hopeful applicants will need to possess:  

Great Potential – do you have a small business that is really starting to fly and is ready to go to a whole new level?  

Savvy business beginnings – are you aware of market potential and can you look at the horizon to map your future? 

A ‘more than money’ approach to doing business – are you thinking social and environmental, and how your business might do good and make money? 

Business street smarts – can you quickly assess the bottom line of an opportunity? 

A dollop of risky realism – do you know when to move ahead and when to stop and take stock?  

Cart loads of energy, pace, enthusiasm and unstoppable drive – you never say never 

A pair of big ears – we want listeners who can act on advise, improve and grow 

An elevator pitch about your business that you deliver brilliantly again, again and again 

Worldly wise owls – you will know about the social and environmental aspects that will impact your business and you’ll have plans as to how to maximise or mitigate against them 

You recognise your weaknesses, but play to your strengths 

 

While these ten points are a must, preference will also be given to applicants if: 

Their business idea could support the Caribbean’s tourist industry – and therefore Virgin Holidays’ objective to giving something back to a region which has welcomed its customers since 1998. 

They are between the ages of 18 – 35. 

Virgin Holidays, which sends hundreds of thousands of customers to the Caribbean each year, is the lead business sponsor of the Centre and has committed £2 million over the next decade to support the initiative.  

Managing Director, Amanda Wills, commented, “This represents another landmark as we and our partners at Virgin Unite bring the Centre to life. Over five million Virgin Holiday customers have enjoyed the unique energy of the people and the beauty of your places here, and it is not an understatement to say tourism is the lifeblood of the Caribbean. It will continue to thrive with the kind of new business ideas that this Centre will nurture. We’d urge anyone with an idea they think could be the future of tourism here to apply to the Centre without delay!”  

The Branson Centre’s Chief Development Director, Lisa Lake said, “I feel very passionate about the Centre and I’m delighted that Virgin Holidays and Virgin Unite have chosen the Caribbean. The region has so much talent and the Centre is a fantastic opportunity to create an active and effective hub for that to be harnessed, acting as a force for good by supporting aspiring entrepreneurs.” 

Virgin Unite CEO, Jean Oelwang, commented, “We are at the start of the journey in building an incredible Centre to support entrepreneurs in the Caribbean. We are very excited to be welcoming our first group of entrepreneurs to the Centre in preparation for a September launch and are also calling out to other partners to join Virgin Unite and Virgin Holidays in supporting the growth of the exciting new initiative.” 

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