Richard Branson, one of the world’s richest men just left Jamaica after a visit that saw him celebrating the second anniversary of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship- Caribbean. During this visit, Branson (who as head of the Virgin group is worth an approximate $4.6 billion) awarded three entrepreneurs a $12,500 US loan to develop their businesses.
The winner of this contest was Josh Chamberlain, who is developing a business for the wonderful Alpha Boys called Alpha Wear Jamaica. In addition to the cash, Chamberlain will be endorsed by Virgin Unite (the philanthropic arm of the Virgin Group) and will have a blog spot created for his company.
Here is more on the Centre’s mandate, from its web site:
Our mission is to offer practical business skills, access to coaches to offer guidance, mentors to share their experiences, professional services to build strong businesses, exposure to networks, finance and investment opportunities. We believe these are essential components for entrepreneurs to grow strong and sustainable businesses.
The Branson Centre’s vision is to support the development of small and growing businesses to create jobs and contribute to the economy in the Caribbean region.
During his visit, Branson also encouraged the Jamaican government to provide small loans to young entrepreneurs:
“One thing we would love the Jamaican government join us to do is to make entrepreneurship loans to young people,” Branson said.
“The way that new jobs get created is not from big companies, it’s through the small companies and money go back into the economy. I would say that is the best investment the Jamaican government could make and that is something that I would like to encourage.”
Hopefully, officials will heed this call, especially since there is no shortage of ideas, passion and creativity from Jamaica’s young entrepreneurs.