- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson apologized Tuesday after he was slammed by critics for not including any black people in a photo celebrating the launch of his new entrepreneurship center in South Africa.

Mr. Branson has since deleted a tweet announcing the launch of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg, which featured a photo of what appeared to be all white people, who make up less than 10% of the country’s population.

“Wonderful to be in South Africa to help launch the new Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship,” the now-deleted tweet read. “We aim to become the heart of entrepreneurship for Southern Africa.”

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The photo was quickly criticized for not reflecting South Africa’s diversity.

“Where did you find so many white people in South Africa???” tweeted South African fashion designer Thula Sindi. “That must have really taken an honest effort for exclude the majority of the population which is just as skilled and talented. Wow. Incredible.”

Mr. Branson acknowledged Tuesday that the photo “lacked diversity.”

“The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship is for all South Africans, but yesterday’s choice of a photo to go with my tweet clearly lacked diversity,” he tweeted. “Apologies. I hope you will take a look at my blog which does far better justice to the amazing work of the Centre and its team.”

A spokesperson for Virgin explained to the BBC that the original tweet linked to a blog about the launch of the new center, “which assists aspiring entrepreneurs of all backgrounds with the skills, opportunities and inspiration they need to succeed.”

“We apologize for the poorly chosen image, but would like to emphasize that this does not reflect the diverse makeup of attendees,” the spokesperson said. “As the video, other social posts and other images of the event show, many of the diverse group of Branson Centre entrepreneurs, trustees and team were present and the image attached to that particular tweet should have reflected this too.”

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