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Branson's vision developed as he helped a local villager start her business

By unknown | Oct 26, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

A South African village was part of the inspiration behind Virgin boss Richard Branson's subsidiary Virgin Money.

Branson is infamous for his advocacy for company fairness to consumers, which has had an impact on the airline and recording company industries.

According to, while visiting a local village Branson was approached by a woman for a R2000 loan to buy a sewing machine to start her business. She promised to pay it back after three months and employ five people.

"I just so happened to have $300 (about R2000) in my wallet and I slipped it into her hand and sort of forgot about it.

"About four months later when I went back to the village, I was greeted by three women who put a very nice garment around me that they had made and handed me the money ($300)."

Branson believes the woman would have been rejected or charged 30percent to 40percent interest for the same loan.

Interviewed recently by Fortune Small Business, Branson explained how his empire was funded by a leap of faith from an aunt.

This was after rejections from banks for a loan to start Virgin Records.

When he asked her if she could take out a second mortgage on her house, she agreed.

Forty years later the global Virgin brand has grown to 200 companies, records annual sales of $20billion (about R132billion) and is estimated to employ more than 50000 people.

In South Africa Virgin Money offers its own branded credit card, which is backed by Absa.

For more information check out the video "Inside the mind of Virgin" on


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