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Branson Centre moves closer to its clientele

Published:Thursday | June 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Both Heneka Watkis-Porter and her company Patwa Apparel are well-known.

She credits the rise of her business to Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship where people like her go for training on how to develop their ventures into thriving companies.

 “Being a part of the programme has helped me to develop and better understand my business strategy. Through the mentorship and networking opportunities my vision and mission for my business has become clearer,” Watkis-Porter told Gleaner Business.

She has been an official Branson Centre entrepreneur since 2015. So she was present for the ceremonies on Tuesday when the centre opened its doors in Kingston, where it recently migrated to be in easier reach of clients wanting its services.

The non-profit organisation founded by Sir Richard Branson supports entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses.

The centre launched in 2011 in Montego Bay. It first opened its doors to 20 entrepreneurs who attended training one day each week for a 12-week period.

In 2015, the centre launched an online platform that allowed it provide training to a wider pool of entrepreneurs.  Currently, the centre has 88 entrepreneurs enrolled in the programme, and over 600 have signed up for online training.

To be enrolled in the programme, the business should be in operation for one to three years. And the entrepreneur should be 18 years or older.

“Branson Centre is moving to Kingston so that we can be more accessible to our entrepreneurs, collaborate more deeply with partners and generate a greater impact overall,” CEO Lisandra Rickards said at Tuesday’s ceremonies that was attended by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Richard Branson.

The centre itself is otherwise undergoing a shift in its own business model. Through a partnership with Proven Investments Limited, which has also brought other local companies on-board, the centre will expand beyond training to provide backing for ventures.

It aligns with a programme that Proven had attempted to develop, under which it sought out 100 ventures in which to invest, but abandoned the effort after failing to find businesses that met its investment criteria.


Sashana Small, Gleaner Business Intern