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Sir Richard Branson's Editorial for The Big Issue South Africa

 The Big Issue South Africa 20 June 2019

I am delighted to be the guest editor of The Big Issue South Africa. This edition focuses on entrepreneurship and, as I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my life and have worked with lots of smart entrepreneurial people in the Virgin Group, I thought I would share a few thoughts with you. (639 Words) - By Sir Richard Branson

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Sir Richard Branson was guest editor of The Big Issue South Africa. Photo: The Big Issue SA/ Virgin Unite.

In my early days, setting up businesses was all about finding a service or product that would make people's lives better and make our staff proud.

Today I spend a lot of time with Virgin Unite, our non-profit foundation, looking at how entrepreneurship can be fostered and used to tackle some of the tough social issues we face in the world today. In South Africa entrepreneurs who create jobs, share skills and allow people to realise their potential are the real stars. I believe it's important for business, government and the social sector to work together to create better opportunities for budding entrepreneurs.

The Big Issue's approach of "a hand-up, not a hand-out" talks to this. In fact one of the things I really respect about The Big Issue is that its vendors are entrepreneurs. Working for hours on their feet and greeting strangers on the street with a warm smile, these extraordinary individuals have tremendous passion for what they do. They are men and women who are improving their lives and in supporting them you are doing more than just buying a magazine.

In all, there are around 350 vendors of The Big Issue in South Africa. Each day they take on the risk of buying magazines at a discount and selling them to commuters heading to work or back home. These individuals often support families and are contributing to the economy. Some are going on to create their own businesses.

The Big Issue is an extraordinary magazine and its vendors are extraordinary people. When you can, take some time to get to know the person who sells you this magazine because each one has an amazing story to share.

Perhaps in speaking to a vendor or reading this special edition, you will be inspired to be an entrepreneur yourself. South Africa needs many more successful entrepreneurs to contribute to the economy and progress of the nation. Maybe you're one of them.

"One of the things I really respect about The Big Issue is that its vendors are entrepreneurs"

Over the years, we encountered lots of young entrepreneurs who wanted to be their own boss and grow a business but they just needed some practical business advice and support to do so.

The Branson Centre draws on our learning from the Virgin Group and gives these young entrepreneurs practical tools, access to local and international mentors, networking opportunities and seed funding. On the mentoring front, I don't know who benefits more, the mentors or the Branson Centre entrepreneurs!

If you have a business, why not apply and grow your business. Or if you are a businessperson reading this, come on board and mentor and support the businesses there. We would love to hear from you at www.virginunite.com

Thank you for supporting The Big Issue. I hope buying and reading this magazine becomes a habit for you. Happy reading!

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