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+ Celebrating Lisa Lake's Leadership Forging Ahead Q&A with Incoming CEO Lisandra Rickards

Meet Our 2016 MoMEC Winners! Branson Entrepreneurs Selected for the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative

Welcome Message Our 5th Anniversary

In this issue of B:Inspired, we celebrate our 5-year anniversary at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship - Caribbean (BCoEC), highlighting some of our trailblazing efforts and remarkable achievements. As I step down from the role of CEO at the end of December 2016, we also share my experience at the helm of the BCoEC for the last 5 years and introduce Lisandra Rickards, currently our Entrepreneur Programme Director, as the incoming CEO. Undoubtedly, Lisandra will take the baton and lead BCoEC to even greater heights. BCoEC’s successes have been achieved through the assistance, unity and strength of its community. We salute our team members, board members, partners, funders, official entrepreneurs, volunteers and all who have supported us along this journey. Your contributions have made our growth possible. As I say farewell, I also say THANK YOU to the passionate, purpose-driven people I have had the privilege of working with. Cheers to the bright future of this beautiful family!

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Forging Ahead: Q&A with Incoming CEO Lisandra Rickards

Success in Mentorship Meet our 2016 MoMEC Winners!


5 Keys to Unlocking a Purpose-Driven Business


Branson Entrepreneurs Selected for the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative


Welcome to Our New Cohorts!

Lisa Lake

Chief Entrepreneurship Officer

Celebrating Lisa Lake's Leadership

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Lisa Lake’s Leadership 2011 -

2013 -


2014 2012 -

2013 During a chance encounter with Virgin representatives at a business function, Lisa Lake learned that Virgin Unite and Virgin Holidays were eyeing the Caribbean as a potential site for another Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. Virgin’s vision of helping entrepreneurs launch or scale successful businesses to fuel economic growth in the region, would be no easy feat. The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship Caribbean (BCoEC) needed a champion to take the reigns and help build the programme from the ground up. Lisa’s background in economic development, consulting and entrepreneurship, combined


with her increasing passion for the project, culminated in her taking on the role herself. It was a chance to test her skills, make a difference and be a part of something great. What started as a six month contract, soon turned into a year of designing the not-forprofit’s programme model and leading its launch. Since BCoEC officially began operations in 2011, Lisa has been at its helm as CEO. Lisa looks back at the early days with fondness and a touch of disbelief. “There really was no playbook for what to do. In true start-up fashion, all of this began in my living room. To see the growth and expansion here in Jamaica, and now to the BVI, is incredible.”

2014 -

2015 2015 -

2016 Despite the weight of BCoEC’s founder, Richard Branson, and the Virgin brand, there were challenges at the outset. “There was a lot of apprehension,” says Lisa. “For entrepreneurs, support was tough to come by and often disjointed. We had to prove ourselves; prove that the programme was worth the investment of time for the entrepreneur’s development. Many people also expected immediate funding, and we didn’t have access to financial streams until much later.” Lisa believes the hurdles were met and overcome thanks in no small part to the team of people who helped her build BCoEC into what it is today. “We would not have reached our goals without such a dedicated, passionate and skilled team. We’re small in number but our impact has far outweighed our size. We pack a mighty punch!”


Undoubtedly, the BCoEC team has much to celebrate. In March 2015, BCoEC transitioned from an inhouse training programme to a virtual platform that reaches 800 entrepreneurs per year. In September 2015, BCoEC and the Arthur Guinness Project combined to create a collateralfree, low-interest loan fund, which has been hugely beneficial for recipients. BCoEC also welcomed its first cohort from the British Virgin Islands in 2016, powered by KPMG. BCoEC’s impact figures are also exceptional. “On average, the entrepreneurs that participate in the programme have created three new jobs, supported three existing jobs and experience an average revenue growth of 158%. Those stats are met with great praise in the industry, and we couldn’t be prouder,” says Lisa.


In December 2016, Lisa will be stepping away from the role of CEO. With the BVI programme, the Made of More competition and other projects just coming into their own, she is confident that BCoEC will continue to grow and flourish. A powerful leader, driven by passion and purpose, Lisa’s contributions to the BCoEC are purely invaluable. Her efforts will surely have a lasting impact on the community she resolutely served.

Continue to the next page to see some of BCoEC's incredible accomplishments! 7

CELEBRATING BCoEC’S MILESTONE ACHIEVEMENTS! Over the past five years we’ve grown exponentially. Here we highlight a handful of our major accomplishments. Cheers to many more milestones and even greater impact in the years ahead!




# We developed a

We created

programme preparing entrepreneurs for funding.

funding opportunities for our entrepreneurs.


STRONG training QUICK FACT: 15% of the participants on our Virtual Platform completed our course, which is above the global average of 10% for similar programmes.



Our proof of


is exceptional.

QUICK FACT: On average, 1 Official Entrepreneur creates 3 jobs, supports 3 existing jobs and has 158% in revenue growth, since baseline.




# We launched our Virtual Platform to greatly expand our training


QUICK FACT: We designed 130 pieces of content and tools to be delivered over our Virtual Platform, on which approximately 800 entrepreneurs receive training each year.


QUICK FACT: We've partnered with the Arthur Guinness Project to create the Made of More Challenge (MoMEC), a 3-year programme. In MoMEC's first 2 years, we've disbursed US$335,000 to 20 entrepreneurs.

We've EXPANDED our programme to the British Virgin Islands, powered by KPMG. QUICK FACT: Over 100 entrepreneurs have already been trained in the first round of training in the BVI, since March 2016.

Forging Ahead Q&A with

Incoming CEO Lisandra Rickards 10

A vibrant and savvy leader, Lisandra Rickards has overseen the finance and training programmes at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship - Caribbean (BCoEC) over the past few years, working particularly closely with entrepreneurs as they develop their business plans and pitches in preparation for accessing funding. In December 2016 she’ll step into the role of CEO, ready to meet the challenges head-on, while forging ahead to continued successes. B:Inspired: How did you first get involved with BCoEC?

B:Inspired: Why did you decide to apply for the position of CEO?

Lisandra: When I left my last position in investments, I was looking for an opportunity that would combine my skills and experience in finance and business development with my search for more creativity and flexibility. Lisa Lake and I knew each other as Harvard alumni, and she emailed me a list of open positions at BCoEC. I interviewed for and was selected as an Entrepreneur Development Trainer.

Lisandra: Professionally, I’ve always been interested in solving the problem of turning small businesses into thriving enterprises, and working with BCoEC has been ideal to bridging that gap. Also, BCoEC has been one of the few entities in Jamaica to take a philanthropic approach to developing and financing businesses, driving the push to prepare entrepreneurs to create more jobs, generate revenue, and contribute to the economic growth of the Caribbean. We’ve done a lot, but there’s still a lot more to do, and I want to play an integral role in that process.

B:Inspired: What did your previous role at BCoEC involve? Lisandra: I worked with incoming cohorts on structuring and presenting their businesses, in a compelling way, to funding sources and potential partners. Later, I became the Entrepreneur Programme Manager, and then Entrepreneur Programme Director, overseeing all the programmes from training, to access to finance, to mentorship and coaching.

B:Inspired: What are you most looking forward to in your new role? Lisandra: The opportunity to build on what Lisa has done and take it to even greater heights. We’re restructuring our programmes and I’m looking forward to helping our entrepreneurs to the next level of scale. BCoEC is helping to build globally relevant businesses, and I’m excited for what’s to come. 11

Success in Mentorship Every entrepreneur needs help and support—be it financial, physical or emotional. That’s why the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship - Caribbean (BCoEC) offers its entrepreneurs the opportunity to participate in a mentorship program. They are paired up with a mentor who offers support, feedback, and overall guidance, with the goal of fostering a sense of community among entrepreneurs and encouraging successful members of that community to give back. It’s a relationship that has been invaluable to both mentors and mentees. One such pair is Caterina Alberti and Jordan Dawson.

“She was able to give me a lot of great insight into the produce business.” As Caterina points out, it’s about showing someone that you are truly there to help them succeed. “There’s such a competitive mentality in business. When you have someone really advocating for you, through action and not just words, there’s nothing like it”, she explains. The two agree that openness, honesty, trust and patience are the key components of a successful mentorship arrangement. BCoEC is always looking for committed volunteer mentors, strategic coaches and finance coaches to work with highpotential entrepreneurs 2-3 hours per month. Interested? Sign up here.

Caterina is the founder of Crossover Coaching, where she specializes in business coaching and insight. She applied to be a BCoEC mentor in 2013. “This type of relationship is most successful when there’s a real personal connection,” she says, “so I wanted to wait until I found someone who was the right fit.” That someone was Jordan Dawson. His business, the Dawson Trading Company, deals in the farming and exporting of Jamaican produce, primarily Julie mangos. The two are an ideal match. Although their industries of choice are very different, their values are the same. “Caterina actually worked with fruit markets in British Columbia,” says Jordan.


“She was able to give me a lot of great insight into the produce business."

Meet our 2016

MoMEC Winners! By Leandra Grant

L to R: Nathan Nelms (Guinness Rep.), Craslyn Benjamin, Theo Smith, Carol Lue, Lisa Lake, Lacey-Ann Bartley, Randy McLaren, Sean Morgan



Held in partnership with the Arthur Guinness Project, this year our annual Made of More Entrepreneurs Challenge (MoMEC) saw eight entrepreneurs pitch for the chance to win zero-collateral, low-interest loans from a purse of US$130,000, or a US$10,000 grant. Winning entrepreneurs who were given loans carried home cheques for funding amounts they pitched for, which was gauged by their ability to repay, while the grant was awarded to the entrepreneur whose business demonstrated the greatest social impact.

Meet this year's MoMEC winners!

The first place winner was Lacey-Ann Bartley of Bartley’s All In Wood, a company that designs, manufactures and sells handmade wooden goods. “The Bartley’s team and business concept encompasses the empowerment of people, the protection of the planet and partnership with the community.” Lacey-Ann took home a US$5,000 loan, which will go towards purchasing additional woodworking machines and upgrading the company website. 16

Randy McLaren of Bresheh, a customizable apparel company, placed second, gaining a US$15,000 loan. “For financing opportunities, you won’t find a better offer than this,” he says of the competition. He’ll use his winnings to purchase machinery and hire staff in preparation for the busy holiday season.

Sean Morgan of Dental and Medical Supplies Limited came in third, receiving a US$35,000 loan to be put towards expanding inventory and hiring more staff. On his MoMEC experience, he says: “Each person brings a different vibe into the room, and being in that group of such diverse skills, with so much passion, it pushes you to do better.”

Craslyn Benjamin of Benlar Foods took fourth place, with a US$40,000 loan. Benlar Foods provides healthy, convenient, high quality food and beverage products to major restaurant and supermarket chains. Craslyn’s next big project is to set up a “first-world” standard packing and processing facility, the first of its kind in Jamaica.

“I was definitely worried at the start,” says Theo Smith of Great House Caterers, “because there’s a lot of work in each round. But sharing your concerns and struggles with others who are going through the same thing, shows you that you aren’t alone.” Theo placed fifth, taking home a US$25,000 loan. His company provides corporate and social catering services islandwide.

Carol Lue of Caribshare Biogas won the Arthur Guinness Social Impact Award for her business, receiving a US$10,000 grant. “The heart of our business is the conversion of waste into gas. These funds will be used to purchase tools and equipment to help us monitor the waste conversion and meet our biogas projections.”


5 Keys to Unlocking a Purpose-Driven Business Virgin’s Changing Business for Good Group Director, Charlotte Goodman, advises Virgin Group businesses globally on how to strategically articulate, embed and measure their purpose to create positive impact and a sustainable competitive advantage.

Here are Charlotte’s tips for building a profitable, purpose-driven business.

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Determine the purpose of your business, by reflecting on why you exist not just focusing on what and how you do what you do. Then make decisions based on the long term, not just the short term. Balancing the importance of both the long term and the day-to-day running of your business will ensure your business is relevant to future customers, not just your current ones.

Insight is everything. Define and have a clear understanding of the role and positive impact you want to have on people’s lives – your customers, your people etc. The more you understand the role you want to play, the better you’ll be able to see and capitalise on relevant opportunities and create new ones that may not already exist.


Work with your all your stakeholders. The needs and feedback from your staff, partners and suppliers are equally as important as that of your customers. All stakeholders should be winners in your quest for success.


Turn potential business risks into opportunities. You may be managing and mitigating environmental risks in your business but the shift to a low carbon economy also presents many exciting opportunities for innovation.


Embed your purpose in all aspects of your business. To ensure delivery of your purpose, you’ll need to drive performance by realigning incentives with your goals, and ensuring that you embed your purpose in all your business operations. This approach will allow you to manage and measure your effort and ultimately to achieve your goals. On November 19th, Charlotte will be joining us in Jamaica to facilitate a workshop entitled Business As a Force For Good Incorporating People, Planet and Profit. To find out more click here. 19

Branson Entrepreneurs Selected for the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative By Leandra Grant

On April 9th, 2015, President Barack Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the Assembly Hall of the University of the West Indies’ Mona Campus in Kingston. There were cheers and applause, and the anticipation was palpable. This wasn’t just a presidential visit—this was the beginning of something that would surely change lives.

Help us congratulate this group of inspiring Branson Centre Official Entrepreneurs!

That day, President Obama announced the launch of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) in the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. Similar programmes are already underway in Africa and Southeast Asia, but for this region—where 58% of the population is under the age of 35—this is an opportunity for young people to harness their potential and channel it to greatness. Four of the eight Jamaicans selected to participate in YLAI are Branson Centre Official Entrepreneurs, a momentous achievement for the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship-Caribbean (BCoEC). These entrepreneurs will now take the skills and knowledge they honed and developed during the BCoEC training, and liaise with other participants from across hemispheres in a five-week programme meant to foster leadership, innovation and entrepreneurial skills. 20

Patria-Kaye Aarons Patria is the founder and CEO of Sweetie, a confectionary company that distributes candy in uniquely Jamaican flavours such as mango, guava and jackfruit. “This year has been riddled with challenges, particularly in trying to penetrate export markets. These are lessons I think best learned in America, so I step into this journey with an open mind. Plus, there’s the prospect of meeting President Obama!”

Javette Nixon Point Global Marketing is the culmination of Javette’s years of business experience and entrepreneurial spirit. It is a marketing and branding firm that creates compelling content for small and medium enterprises and brings them to market. “We’ll be amongst 250 young global business leaders from 36 other countries. That’s a tremendous network to tap into. It’s the opportunity to build not just on the knowledge of the U.S. market, but the global business climate.”

Craslyn Benjamin Craslyn is the driving force behind Benlar Foods Limited. From her grandfather’s backyard farm to a career in exporting and international trade, Craslyn has experienced food production and sales on all scales of business. Benlar aims to produce and distribute high quality produce, while remodeling Jamaica’s agricultural sector to compete in the global market.

Latoya West-Blackwood A lover of books from a very young age, Latoya West-Blackwood believes that a literate population is the key to national development. Her company, iPublish, fuses new media and technology with traditional literature to create accessibility for what she calls the print-disabled community: including the blind, deaf, and learning-disabled. “To be selected for this initiative is a feeling I can’t describe. I plan to use this opportunity to really grow the nonprofit arm of my business. Reading and literacy is a public health issue. A reading population is a thinking one.”


Welcome to Our New Cohorts! We are thrilled to introduce our most recently engaged entrepreneurs: Jamaica's 12th cohort and our very first cohort in the British Virgin Islands!

Jamaica Cohort 12 ENTREPRENEURS

Anthony Lawrence Kemar Allen


Corey Breneisen Rae Marie Fine Soaps and Textiles - A line of all-natural skin care and home cleaning products ideal for individuals with allergies and sensitivities.

Kemar Allen Jamaica Compost and Recyclables Offers waste diversion services to businesses, by converting waste into organic fertilizer and recyclables into raw materials, helping combat global warming and aiding companies in their corporate sustainability initiatives.

Anthony Lawrence Kudos from Nature - A farming enterprise that produces natural and organic products, offering organic teas and juices, and seeking to expand product offerings in the near future.

Chereese Ricketts EL.ES Eyewear A mobile eyewear boutique that offers in-home eyewear consultations and customizes glasses to personalities.

Chereese Ricketts

Corey Breneisen



Nathan Wong Alton Bertie Terri Benjamin

Lenette Lewis

Andrea Wilson Libbie Oliver Marva Titley

Nathan Wong, Alternative Concrete Solutions - Specializes in decorative concrete and restoration, offering services that include polished concrete, acid staining, Mexican tile restoration and custom concrete countertops.

Terri Benjamin, Chic Gourmet - A vegan, allergy-free bake shop, bringing clean eating to the BVI by offering goods and meals that cater to all dietary restrictions, as well as providing diet coaching and meal planning services.

Marva Titley-Smith, Matrix Spark A management consultant company that helps managers become better leaders, and organizations run more effectively.

Alton Bertie, ABX - A music creation company that develops and produces filmquality soundtracks for advertising.

Andrea Wilson, Absolutely Unique VI - Creates, designs and sells keepsake products and apparel, such as pillows, hammocks and slippers, that uniquely capture the spirit of the BVI and the Caribbean.

Lenette Lewis, Sageroots - Develops natural hair care, skin care and home care products that are also environmentallyfriendly, such as body butters, beeswax candles and essential oils.

Libbie Oliver, Caribbean Mountain Coffee - Sells premium, organic, ethicallysourced Arabica coffee in unique Caribbean flavours.

Tony Trappe - Is discretely exploring and developing the concept for the manufacturing and local and global sales of a product that will be synonymous with the British Virgin Islands.


in association with


Think Beyond Today A series of practical, high impact workshops for entrepeneurs. World-class training that influences business growth, and is led by savvy international and local facilitators. For more details,


True Jamaican warmth for discerning world citizens

W W W. S P A N I S H C O U R T H O T E L . C O M 1 St L uci a Ave n u e, K i n g sto n 5 , J a ma i c a • 876 92 6 0 0 0 0

Igniting business to transform the world




On Average a Branson Centre Official Entrepreneur



New Jobs

Existing Jobs


Revenue Growth Baseline as compared to data as of June 2016.






Entrepreneur Relations Manager






Chief Entrepreneurship Officer Partnerships & Communications Director

Entrepreneur Programme Director Entrepreneur Finance Lead

Entrepreneur Development Manager Communications Coordinator Accounting Manager

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B:Inspired eZine - Issue 12  
B:Inspired eZine - Issue 12