Entrepreneurs’ Selection Assessment Announced for New Branson Centre Caribbean

By Virgin Holidays, PRNE
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, June 30, 2011 -

Applications for the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship
Caribbean closed earlier this month and, after attracting over
5,000 visits to the Centre’s website, 20 hopefuls have now been
invited to attend a special assessment day with Virgin Holidays and
Virgin Unite on 4th July 2011, to demonstrate if they
have what it takes to be the ‘Caribbean Richard Branson’.

The Centre, a collaboration between Virgin Unite, the non-profit
foundation of the Virgin Group and Virgin Holidays, the UK’s number
one long haul holiday company, will open this September in Montego
, and will support local entrepreneurs to create and grow small
businesses, ultimately generating jobs for the region.

July’s assessment day will be attended by Amanda Wills, Virgin
Holidays’ Managing Director and Virgin Unite’s CEO, Jean Oelwang,
as well as the Branson Centre - Caribbean team itself. Candidates
will be required to take part in a series of interviews, pitches
and group exercises before being notified later in the month as to
whether they have been successful.

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, 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. Jamaican
entrepreneur Patrick Casserly will lead the centre as Interim

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 almost $3.5 million over the next decade to support the
initiative. Managing Director, Amanda Wills, comments: “We’re
delighted with the number of applications we’ve received and I
can’t wait to meet our aspiring entrepreneurs next month.

“However, although applications have closed, the door remains
open to businesses and mentors to get involved. We would love to
hear from experienced entrepreneurs who believe they can contribute
to this fantastic initiative - whether by donating time, expertise
or seed funding - and urge anyone who wants to know more to get in
touch so they can help nurture the new business ideas that will
form the future of tourism in the Caribbean.”

The Branson Centre’s Chief Development Director, Lisa Lake said:
“It’s a really exciting time for the Branson Centre - Caribbean. We
are eager to support high-potential entrepreneurs that can make a
huge difference not only to their immediate families and
communities, but also to the Caribbean’s economic growth in the
long term. Entrepreneurs need a variety of support mechanisms and
we are looking for others to join us in this initiative to bring
about real impact.”

Virgin Unite CEO, Jean Oelwang, comments: “We are really looking
forward to working with some great entrepreneurs in the Caribbean.
 We’ve got a fabulous team at the Branson Centre who will
ensure that these budding businesses turn out to be great success
stories.  We would love to join forces with partners and
business leaders who share in this exciting vision to help create
thousands of new jobs in the Caribbean.”

For more information on getting involved in the Centre as a
business or mentor visit href="www.bransoncentre.org/caribbean">www.bransoncentre.org/caribbean
or email: href="mailto:enquiries.caribbean@bransoncentre.org">enquiries.caribbean@bransoncentre.org

About Virgin Unite:

Virgin Unite is the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group.
We unite people to tackle tough social and environmental problems
in an entrepreneurial way. Our aim is to help revolutionize the way
businesses, government and the social sector work together -
driving business as a force for good.  This is based on the
belief that this is the only way we can tackle the scale and
urgency of the challenges facing the world today. Virgin Unite’s
overheads are covered by Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group,
meaning that 100% of additional donations received go direct to the
frontline where they are needed most. For more information please
visit href="www.virginunite.com/">www.virginunite.com.

Follow us on Twitter href="www.twitter.com/virginunite">www.twitter.com/virginunite

Join the movement on Facebook href="www.facebook.com/pages/Virgin-Unite">www.facebook.com/pages/Virgin-Unite

The  first  Branson  Centre  of
 Entrepreneurship  was  launched  in
 Johannesburg,  South  Africa  in 2006, and has
seen an array  of successful businesses  funded,
 thrive and grow. These range from IT, fashion designers, and
a bespoke uniform supplier to small hotels to a gaming business
that equips young people with computer skills, as well as providing
a safe environment for them to play the latest video games. These
businesses have created jobs in their local communities and
inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs.

About Virgin Holidays:

Virgin Holidays is the UK’s leading Worldwide Holiday Company
with href="www.virginholidays.co.uk/info/about/all_inclusive/">all
inclusive holidays, href="www.virginholidays.co.uk/special_offers/">last minute
holidays and href="www.virginholidays.co.uk/info/about/beach_holidays/">beach
holidays. Offering adventures to the USA, the Caribbean,
Africa, the Middle and Far East, the Indian Ocean and

As one of the top travel companies in the UK, Virgin Holidays
strives to deliver amazing holiday experiences to all customers.
Formed in 1985 following the creation of Virgin Atlantic, and built
on the  Virgin  principles  of  excellent
 customer  service,  high  quality  and
 value  for  money,  Virgin Holidays offers
maximum convenience and  flexibility  with  an
emphasis  on  fun and excitement.

The  brand  is  particularly  known
 for  its  ’brilliant  basics  and
 magic  touches’  approach  and  is
synonymous with honesty and reliability. The company is proud of
its commitment to encouraging sustainability  in  travel
 and  has  led  the  market  in
 introducing  numerous  innovations  to
 ensure customers ‘give back’ to the destinations they visit.
For more information please visit www.virginholidays.co.uk.

For further information please contact:
Jodie Dalmeda, Virgin Unite, E: jodie.dalmeda at virginunite.co.uk, T: + 44(0)203-126-3967 M: + 44(0)7967-562-865. Phil Bloomfield, Virgin Holidays, E: phil.bloomfield at virginholidays.com, T: + 44(0)1293-744261 M: + 44(0)7872-817-053.

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