Laying the Groundwork
Virgin Unite, the not-for-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, believes business can and must be a force for good in the world – and that this is also good for business! They incubate new approaches to leadership, including supporting entrepreneurs around the world as they launch and grow businesses. Through a strategic partnership, they established the first Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2006.
Fast forward to September 2011 and Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean (BCoEC) opens its doors in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Launched by Sir Richard Branson himself; entrepreneurs, mentors and partners turned out to show their support. They began training their first cohort of entrepreneurs later that same month.
Practicing What They Preach
Virgin Holidays is BCoEC’s lead business partner. A responsible business and the UK’s leading long-haul tour operator, Virgin Holidays supports the Caribbean – a destination that their customers have fallen in love with over the years, through their support of BCoEC and its entrepreneurs.
In line with their global efforts to make lives better by changing the way people live and work, Virgin Unite, BCoEC’s operational partner, works closely with the team on the ground to incubate new approaches to entrepreneurship development and support its ongoing expansion.
The partnership between Virgin Unite and Virgin Holidays demonstrates how a shared goal to create something unique that will provide Caribbean entrepreneurs with access to life-changing opportunities can transform lives and businesses in the region.
Back in the Day
In its original model, BCoEC admitted up to 20 entrepreneurs per cohort to begin training one day a week for 12 weeks in the centre’s Montego Bay location. Budding entrepreneurs underwent a rigorous screening process, in order to be selected for the training programme. On average, 80% of the entrepreneurs who were admitted completed training successfully and were invited to enter the next stage of the programme. By the end of 2014, BCoEC had successfully trained 7 cohorts in Jamaica and was ready to scale the programme into the wider Caribbean. They launched their online training platform, the Branson Centre Caribbean Online, on March 3, 2015. This marked the beginning of a new era.