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Virgin’s Richard Branson made an appearance at the relaunch of the Virgin Money insurance service in South Africa.
The mogul and philanthropist had a fair amount to say, talking political stability, the actual service they’re launching, thoughts on the SA startup scene and Blockchain.
Virgin is (seemingly) thriving in SA
Branson noted that stability is needed around the world, pointing to Brexit and the possible election of Donald Trump as two destabilising events.
“As far as the Virgin group in South Africa is concerned, we’re expanding as fast as we’ve ever expanded. So, we’ve got… 11 new health clubs opening this year. I’ve just opened one around the corner… Every weekend from now until Christmas, we’re opening new health clubs. And this year we celebrate 20 years of Virgin Atlantic flying to South Africa,” Branson continued.
The South African startup scene
“We’re very involved in South Africa’s startup businesses through the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and I met a number of young entrepreneurs this morning that Virgin Active are helping. There’s one that is growing spinach, kale and other things in the townships, and gave me bread made of spinach,” he explained.
“That is the future of South Africa, it’s going to be thousands and thousands of startup businesses.”
Branson thinks the SA government should give loans to startups
“In the UK, we persuaded the UK government, instead of just doing loans for universities, to do loans for startups. And then we’ll find mentors for them, and it’s been very very successful. And that’s something that… maybe when I’m next down (sic) I might try to see the Finance Minister to make a suggestion to him on that.”
What about Blockchain?
“On Blockchain, there’s a lot of things that Blockchain can do. For instance, in Egypt… only 10% of homes are registered. The other 90%, people live in them, but they never actually got the piece of paper to say they own them. And if you don’t own your home, you can’t borrow money… you just can’t grow your lives,” the Virgin co-founder explained, saying that the technology could serve as a digital record of home ownership in Egypt.
On meeting Pravin Gordhan
We’ve already covered Branson’s thoughts on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan after charges were dropped against him, but what does he think of the politician in general?
“I met him the last time I was in South Africa and I thought he was a tremendous… fantastic individual and he epitomised the stability that South Africa needed.”