Sir Richard Branson Launches Branson Centre Of Entrepreneurship In Jamaica

Sir Richard Branson expanded yet another border for entrepreneurship, as he launched the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship - Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on Thursday. The facility -- the first of its kind of the region -- will be run by Virgin Holidays and Virgin Unite, the nonprofit foundation of the Virgin Group, providing aspiring entrepreneurs in the Caribbean region with a launch pad for their businesses. Fourteen young entrepreneurs were selected from hundreds of applicants to kick off the program, reaping the benefits of coaching and mentoring sessions with successful entrepreneurs like Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records.

In 2005, Branson also opened a Johannesburg Centre in South Africa.

By inspiring young entrepreneurs, the center aims to stimulate the economy and create jobs in Jamaica, where the unemployment rate hit an eight-year high of 12.9 percent in early 2011. "Nineteen out of 20 businesses fail, so by mentoring people here in the Caribbean or in Africa, we can make sure that hopefully 10 out of 20 succeed and help give people a leg up," Branson, a member of the HuffPost Small Business Board of Directors, told executive editor Rod Kurtz in an interview.

"Almost every single big company in the world started with an entrepreneur just like these guys today, with one little idea, and the world desperately needs more jobs to be created, more entrepreneurs to give people some respect," Branson added.

Coming soon on HuffPost Small Business: an exclusive sit-down interview with Richard Branson.