Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder will today officially open Africa’s newest and biggest startup campus in Johannesburg, 22 On Sloane.
The campus will provide support services to entrepreneurs across the continent including access to mentors, investors and entrepreneurial support organisations.
The launch forms part of Global Entrepreneur Week (GEW), an annual week-long gathering of all key stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
This is not the first time that the mega-entrepreneur has shown support for South African entrepreneurs, with the most notable example being the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa which he launched in 2005 to help foster entrepreneurship in South Africa.
Here are some of the ways Branson has campaigned for South African entrepreneurs.
1. Investing In African Entrepreneurs
For the past 12 years Branson Centre has offered free practical training for young entrepreneurs through the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, they have assisted over 4,300 entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses.
Notable alum is agri-preneur Claire Reid, founder of Reel Gardening, an internationally recognised biodegradable seed tape manufacturer.
Earlier this year the organisation announced that it was closing down the physical centre in Johannesburg, but would continue their support of entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa through their other initiatives.
2. Being An Active Champion Of Entrepreneurship Efforts
Branson has been a supporter of GEW since the initiative began in 2008.
He has praised its latest initiative, 22 On Sloane, for its potential impact on all African entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs are the life blood of any economy. They are disruptors and innovators who shape our world for the better. This campus launch is going to help to create a new generation of entrepreneurs who will improve peoples’ lives across the continent,” he said in a media statement.
3. Launching An Online Resource For Startup Founders
The Virgin Entrepreneur website is an online resource for business owners across the globe. They offer resources and advice related to running a business. They cover pertinent topics like funding, leadership and marketing.
Branson is an active contributor on the website, often sharing his Virgin journey and the business lessons he learnt along the way.
The website also recognises the efforts of African innovators and entrepreneurs, including Virgin Atlantic-backed entrepreneurs who have gone on to gain recognition globally.
Bonus: Expanding The Virgin Group Into SA
Branson has put his money where his mouth is by bringing his Group to South Africa. Branson has expanded his various business operations into South Africa, which include, among others, Virgin Active, Virgin Money South Africa and Virgin Atlantic.
“I often describe Virgin as a way of life brand, and that’s certainly the case here. From my back of the envelope sums, we have more than 4,000 members of the Virgin team working in South Africa, supporting 1.3 million customers. If I was to describe any country as being Virgin territory, South Africa would be at the top of the list,” Branson writes in a blog post on the Virgin website.
WATCH: A Day In The Life Of Richard Branson In South Africa