Still time to be a Branson entrepreneur
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday June 20, 2012 – The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean is ready to welcome another 20 entrepreneurs with its third round of applications now open to the public.
Launched last September by Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame, the centre has since taken on 33 entrepreneurs, provided them with extensive training and, for some, introduced them to mentors and potential investors.
Neither academic qualifications nor business plans are required for applicants, with the focus being placed on strong entrepreneurship abilities, but making the grade into the programme isn't easy.
The first round took on a group of 13 young entrepreneurs, but the second group of 20, who entered the programme earlier this year, were selected from 200 completed applications.
Of those, only 40 were selected for phone interviews, after which 30 went on to do personal assessments, which include a business pitch and testing for analytical thinking through case studies, before the final 20 were picked.
Eleven of the 13 in the first batch were chosen for the second stage.
After this round, for which applications close on July 7, another 20 entrepreneurs will be targeted before the end of 2012. The goal is to recruit 60 more entrepreneurs each year.
The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, Caribbean is the second of its kind, the first being in South Africa. It is a non-profit organisation, with a mandate of helping entrepreneurs "succeed and create jobs to energise the economy and lift the region out of poverty".
It generally works with entrepreneurs whose businesses are between one to five-years-old, even though they have taken on a few who are in their concept stage.
Candidates ideally fall within the age range of 18 to 35 years-old. The first group had an average age of 26-years-old, while members of the second group were 31-years-old on average.
Branson's two-stage approach to developing entrepreneurs aims to help them create a firm business platform and produce a robust plan, and then facilitate their exposure to networks, mentors, potential clients and investment opportunities without directly investing in the businesses.