Richard Branson to open Caribbean entrepreneurship centre
Capitalised to the tune of £2 million over the next decade, the centre will act as a hub for aspiring entrepreneurs.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday September 1, 2011 - The multi-million dollar Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship Caribbean is open next week in Montego Bay, St James as scheduled.
And, excitement is mounting as the man himself – serial entrepreneur Richard Branson – is slated to officially open the centre flanked by a select few successful self-made businessmen and women who take up his offer to be angel investors in the concept.
Capitalised to the tune of £2 million over the next decade, the centre will act as a hub for aspiring entrepreneurs and particularly aims to help young entrepreneurs from traditionally disadvantaged communities actualise businesses. Jamaican businessman Patrick Casserly is the centre's interim chairman.
Virgin Unite, the charitable arm of the Virgin Group, was recently offering entrepreneurs an opportunity to celebrate the opening and become a founding patron of the centre for a minimum donation of US$25,000.
In a release on its website, Virgin Unite said it was offering a select group of entrepreneurs "a once in a lifetime opportunity" to join Sir Richard Branson on a Connection Trip to Montego Bay from September 7 to 9 2011.
"By joining the trip, you will celebrate the launch of the new Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship as a Founding Patron and provide critical support to local entrepreneurs — becoming the first business leaders to back the Centre with Richard Branson and our partners," read the notice.
The notice said the minimum donation includes accommodation for two people on a shared room basis for one night in Montego Bay and one night at the GoldenEye resort, transportation within Jamaica, and all meals and social activities.
It added that the Virgin Group and Richard Branson cover the overhead costs for Virgin Unite, so all the net proceeds from the charitable donation will go directly to the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and a charitable receipt for the amount will be provided.
When initially announced in May this year, Amanda Wills, managing director of lead business sponsor Virgin Holidays, characterised the establishment of the centre as a way of giving back toward the Caribbean as one of its prime holiday destinations.
“This [the establishment of the Centre] 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,” enthused Wills.