Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship lends hand to African startups


At the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship (BCOE) in Johannesburg, South Africa fifteen entrepreneurs from Liberia recently took part in a foundation course that covered the essential fundamentals of running a startup.

Apart from scratching up on accounting and business planning, more importantly, entrepreneurs were taught the art and science of breaking the rules to capture the imagination of customers and investors alike. This is part of a broader programme to further the aspirations of the African continent’s entrepreneurs.

In addition to insights from the Virgin Group of Companies and its British billionaire founder, Sir Richard Branson, there were practical tips and real-life experiences from a number of sought-after guest speakers. These included South African entrepreneur Paul Smith, Clive Butkow, former COO of Accenture South Africa, and Tracey Webster, Executive Director of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s African Leadership Initiative.

The entrepreneurs range from diverse sectors such as agriculture, food manufacturing/processing, renewable energy, transport and water/sanitation. Many of these sectors are socially-driven and extremely relevant to pressing issues in Liberia.

Agro Inc. for example, helps link farmers to crucial markets so that Liberia can rely more on locally produced food. We Trade Liberia, on the other hand, specialises in renewable forms of energy. The latter, and others providing solar lighting, are extremely relevant given Liberia’s electrification issue.

The entrepreneurs will return to South Africa in a few months time. According to Jane Rankin, the Chief Executive of BCOE, “Between now and then, the entrepreneurs implement their business plans. Once everything is in place, we give them the tools they need to take their businesses to the next level.”

The programme gained funding from Humanity United. BCOE plans to offer its courses to more NGOs involved in the fields of entrepreneurial development and job creation in the future.



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