by Staff Reporter on 18/11/11 at 7:45 am
The recently appointed CEO of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and Virgin Unite Africa, Tracey Webster, today announced plans to continue building on the vision of the Centre’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, by encouraging its entrepreneurs to put people and planet at the core of their businesses.
This comes during Global Entrepreneurship Week (14 – 20 November) in which Webster is participating as a speaker in Cape Town. It sees 115 countries celebrate the industry’s innovations and advancements over the past year.
Webster, a Tutu fellow and founder of the Starfish Greathearts Foundation, says, “Spurred on by changes in the global economy and environment, a different approach to business is needed. Where in the past, ventures were driven largely by profit; today entrepreneurs need to be challenged to be innovative, original and bold in their ideas and consider their impact on communities and the environment. It is by teaching this philosophy at The Branson Centre that we aim to help drive business as a force for good.”
This aside, Webster believes government departments, corporate South Africa and investors should collaborate to overcome the many regulatory obstacles entrepreneurs face when starting out.
“As we need more entrepreneurs to stimulate the economy and drive job creation, this is counter-intuitive and needs to be addressed collectively by industry stakeholders. This is something I am committed to initiating at the centre in 2012,” she says.
Support from local and international mentors
Ensuring that the Branson Centre’s entrepreneurs have increased access to networking opportunities; practical skills development and support from local and international mentors is also high on Webster’s agenda.
She says, “My goal is to lead the Branson Centre through its next growth curve by developing income streams that are more sustainable and to create a space of inspiration, learning and opportunity for our entrepreneurs to grow.”
Plans are already underway to achieve this, as the fact that eight of the centre’s technology entrepreneurs were recently selected to attend the UK’s Tech City conference demonstrates.
“During the Tech City visit, the entrepreneurs – who include 8bitOctopus; Soweto Internet Radio; Word Start and MTI Technologies, among others – will receive first-hand knowledge from respected speakers and spend a two-day boot camp pitching their business ideas to international investors at the conference,” she says.
It is opportunities like these that Richard Branson and Virgin Unite are deeply invested in as they have the ability to create jobs which is critical in the current climate.
“With an unemployment rate that sits stubbornly at 25 percent, encouraging entrepreneurship is a must as it not only boosts new business ventures; it also creates sustainable employment for others. We would love South African businesses to join hands with us to make this a possibility and help drive business as a force for good,” concludes Webster.
For more information about The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship visit www.bransoncentre.org.
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