Sir Richard Branson calls on government to invest in entrepreneurs

Coalition could use Budget to “kick-start thousands of new businesses”, says Virgin boss

Sir Richard Branson has called on the government to champion entrepreneurs in tomorrow’s Budget.

The Virgin founder hopes the coalition will act on a recommendation he made in January, to introduce an entrepreneurial loan for young people who choose to start a business instead of going to university.

“There are one or two ideas that we’ve put to government and…I think that would be a fantastic way of kick-starting thousands of new businesses,” Branson said, adding: “We’ll watch the Budget with interest.”

Speaking at a press conference at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress last week, he highlighted the difference that even a small amount of money can make to an entrepreneur:

“I started with a few hundred pounds… Businesses don’t need much money to get going [but]…you need something and banks generally aren’t willing to put up that initial risk money.”

Branson also revealed that he would explore ways that his own banking venture, Virgin Money, (which purchased the “good” part of nationalised high street bank Northern Rock for £747m in November 2011) could increase investment in entrepreneurs.

It will start, he said, by re-introducing the Virgin One Account – which enabled people to start businesses against the value of their own house – within the next few months.

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However, he stressed that, in order to justify investment, budding entrepreneurs must have an idea “that knocks people between the eyes”.

Speaking exclusively to Startups at Business 2012 on Sunday, he shared his top tip for finding the right idea, saying:

“I only start businesses where I feel it’s not being done well by other people. So, the next time I get frustrated about the way somebody’s doing something, I’ll say to my team, ‘let’s jump in and see if we can do it better’.”

The chancellor will announce the Budget for 2012 at 12.30pm tomorrow, Wednesday March 21


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