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Branson looks in on Virgin's Small Business Bootcamp in Bimini

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Richard Branson was on hand for the presentation of certificates to those who completed the Small Business Bootcamp
Richard Branson’s birthday cruise aboard Scarlet Lady (July 17-22) included a community empowerment activity in Bimini and support for other eco initiatives through Virgin’s charity organizations.

Virgin Voyages, in partnership with the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, hosted a three-day Small Business Bootcamp for local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the Bahamas. Hosted at Resorts World Bimini, the 30 entrepreneurs received hands-on training in business modeling and participated in a one-on-one consultation with experts from the Branson Centre about how to overcome their specific business challenges.

Surprise appearance

While Scarlet Lady was docked in Bimini Thursday, Branson made a surprise appearance and shared his own entrepreneurial tips, collected from more than 50 years in business. He said, 'Don't be afraid to fail. The key to entrepreneurship is persistence. It's important to never give up. Lean on the network of people around you, including those beside you in this room today.'

Virgin Voyages also collaborated with the Ministry of Tourism and Resorts World Bimini to make the event possible and spread the word. Working in tandem, the goal was to equip small businesses for growth and success in Bimini, according to Jill Stoneberg, Virgin Voyages’ senior director of sustainability and social impact.

'We want to ensure that the local economy benefits from increased tourism to the island and the community gets excited when they see our ships in port,' Stoneberg said.

Mangrove restoration

In addition to driving small business, Virgin Voyages teamed up with Virgin Unite, the independent foundation of the Virgin Group, to create a 'Sea Change Fund' to support mangrove forest restoration projects in the Caribbean. During the birthday voyage, passengers were invited to donate to help support and scale partners working to protect this vital ecosystem.

'Working with Virgin Unite, we believe this is a start of an exciting program of work that will create an epic sea change in mangrove conservation across the region and act as a blueprint for other parts of the world,' Stoneberg said.