Lisa Lake said opportunities often pop up when you least expect and her introduction to the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship happened completely by chance. She said, one evening she was invited to a cocktail party and, while there, she met a man from Virgin Unite who told her about the plans Virgin had to launch the Branson Centre in the Caribbean.
"Given my interest in entrepreneurship and private sector-led development I was immediately interested and volunteered to help out as a mentor once the programme got running. As it turned out, they also needed help to get the programme running, and the rest is history," Lake said.
Lake's entrepreneurial aspirations began when she was only a student, selling her mother's shoes to neighbourhood passers-by without permission. This unique venture would foreshadow the distinctive initiatives Lake would one day take on as manager, director, graduate of Harvard University's Kennedy School, and business owner.
Prior to the Branson Centre, Lake served as the director of operations for Brand Extensions at Sandals Resorts International, where she helped launch the successful resort chain's newest brands, Sandals Lifestyle and Island Routes Caribbean Adventure Tours.
"As a child, I was encouraged by my family to be selfmotivated and entrepreneurial. I wanted to do my best at the things that I liked doing. I think motivation needs to come from within, but inspiration comes from others. I've been lucky to come into contact with people who continue to inspire me," Lake said.
The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship Caribbean is a not-for-profit organisation that was launched in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in September 2011. The centre supports the development of early-stage entrepreneurs in the Caribbean by offering training in practical business skills, access to coaches and mentors to guide and share their experiences, and networks to enable opportunities and growth.
"As a child, my father often said, "No matter how good you are at something, there is likely to be someone, somewhere who is better." That taught me humility. I also know that I've been very fortunate to have the opportunities that I've had in my life, and with that comes responsibility to make the most out of each of them - not just for me personally, but for the benefit of others," Lake said.