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Four Partners Join Forces in Creation of an “Entrepreneurial Exchange”

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JOHANNESBURG, July 18, 2011/PRNewswire/ –UK Prime Minister and Partners Spend Time with Branson Centre Entrepreneurs in South Africa to Listen and Learn About What They Want From the Exchange

On the day the UK Prime Minister visits South Africa to demonstrate how Africa is a place to find innovation, make investments and do business, Virgin Unite, the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), Facebook and the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE.L) have brought together a group of entrepreneurs to listen to what is needed on the ground in South Africa. This is the start of a longer term connection between South Africa and the UK to encourage a flow of business investments and sharing of best practice that will see the group search for businesses to take part in an innovative exchange programme. In return the businesses will be able to access the skills and programmes available in each other’s countries through Virgin Unite, Tech City, the London Stock Exchange Group, and a digital sharing space on Facebook. The group hopes that by working together it can combine the necessary essentials to help grow businesses – support, mentoring and access to funding – ultimately creating thousands of jobs in both the UK and South Africa.

Today, it all starts with twenty-two inspiring entrepreneurs from the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, who will help shape what they need from the four partners as they start to set up the exchange programme.

One of these entrepreneurs, Yashwin Mohan, owns and runs ‘Game Over’ an arcade business in South Africa. He said: “The Branson Centre has contributed to my success. I can now create jobs for people that I’ve hired and the impact this has on their lives and the lives of their families and their communities, is enormous.”

Virgin Unite is the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, CEO Jean Oelwang, commented, “At Virgin Unite we have a growing number of successful entrepreneurs who are mentoring budding entrepreneurs at the Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship to help them scale their businesses. We’ve seen the great benefits that these connections and mentoring can deliver and are thrilled to be part of this partnership that can help create a powerful network of entrepreneurs to ultimately create thousands of new jobs in both countries.”

The partners are planning to launch a competition to identify ten leading entrepreneurs (five from the UK and five from SA) who will be part of a country exchange programme – bringing African Start Ups to Tech City in the East End of London, and British Start Ups to the Branson Centre in South Africa. The “entrepreneurial exchange” will tap into all four of the partners’ talent pool and match business leaders of today with the emerging entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

“Today highlights the talent and the potential impact of Africa’s entrepreneurs and reinforces Facebook’s desire to help businesses around the world develop strong, lasting relationships with people,” said Joanna Shields, Facebook Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Eric Van der Kleij, Chief Executive of UKTI’s Tech City Investment Organisation, said: “Entrepreneurs are key to economic growth. Tech City is home to some of the most exciting, innovative start-ups in the tech and creative industries. We are excited to be able to work with Virgin Unite and Facebook to share this spirit between the UK and South Africa.”

London Stock Exchange Group CEO, Xavier Rolet, said, “Through AIM, the London Stock Exchange’s market for smaller, growing companies, we have helped over 3000 domestic and international businesses to raise equity capital to support their future development. We are therefore delighted to be involved in this initiative to support African and UK entrepreneurship and to facilitate greater access to expertise and funding.?” ?

Notes to Editor:

About Virgin Unite:

Virgin Unite is the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group. We unite people to tackle tough social and environmental problems in an entrepreneurial way. Our aim is to help revolutionize the way business, governments and the social sector work together – driving business as a force for good. This is based on the belief that this is the only way we can tackle the scale and urgency of the challenges facing the world today. Virgin Unite’s overheads are covered by Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group, meaning that 100% of additional donations received go direct to the frontline where they are needed most. For more information please visit http://www.virginunite.com. Follow us on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/virginunite. Join the movement on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Virgin-Unite. The Branson Centre can be found at http://www.BransonCentre.org

The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg was established by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Unite, the Virgin Group’s non-profit foundation. It provides aspiring entrepreneurs with business skills, access to mentors to share their experiences and financing opportunities to enable growth. These entrepreneurs are making a huge difference not only to their immediate families and communities, but also to South Africa’s economic growth.

About Facebook:

Founded in February 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment. Facebook is a privately held company and is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif.

Facebook(R) is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

About TechCity Investment Organisation:

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the Government Department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy- acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, visit http://www.ukti.gov.uk or telephone +44 (0)20 7215 8000. For latest press releases, visit the online newsroom at http://www.ukti.gov.uk/media.

You can also keep in touch with developments at UKTI through http://www.blog.ukti.gov.uk, http://www.twitter.com/ukti and http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/ukti.

About London Stock Exchange Group:

London Stock Exchange Group (LSE.L) sits at the heart of the world’s financial community. The Group operates a broad range of international equity, bond and derivatives markets, including London Stock Exchange; Borsa Italiana; MTS, Europe’s leading fixed income market; and Turquoise, offering pan-European and US lit and dark equity trading. Through its markets, the Group offers international business unrivalled access to Europe’s capital markets.

The Group is a leading developer of high performance trading platforms and capital markets software and also offers its customers around the world an extensive range of real-time and reference data products and market-leading post-trade services.

Headquartered in London, United Kingdom with significant operations in Italy and Sri Lanka, the Group employs around 1500 people. Further information on London Stock Exchange Group can be found at http://www.londonstockexchangegroup.com

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