The 69-year-old British businessman behind the Virgin group visited his Mont Rochelle Wine Estate near Cape Town earlier this week to launch the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship South Africa in Johannesburg.
“Wonderful to be in South Africa to help launch the new Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship” a statement posted to his Twitter to mark the occasion said, “We aim to become the heart of entrepreneurship for Southern Africa”.
However the image the shared alongside his announcement, which has since been deleted, was criticised by a number of South Africans for not better representing the ethnic makeup of the country his new centre will operate in.
It is unclear if those surrounding Mr Branson made up his employees or benefactors of the centre.
Fashion designer Thula Siundi wrote in response: “Where did you find so many white people in South Africa?
“That must have really taken an honest effort for exclude the majority of the population which is just as skilled and talented.”
More than 76 per cent of the population of the country’s population is made up of black South Africans, compared to a white demographic which contributes 9.1 per cent.
Tebogo Ditshego, head of a public relations and marketing firm in the country, added: “Where’s the diversity in that team?”.
Mr Branson has since deleted the image, issuing a statement apologising for the choice of picture.
“The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship is for all South Africans” he wrote, “but yesterday’s choice of a photo to go with my tweet clearly lacked diversity. 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.”
In a blog post on the launch, Mr Branson said the centre aimed “to become the heart of entrepreneurship in South Africa”.
He added: “We held the event at Mont Rochelle, Virgin Limited Edition’s stunning vineyard on the Cape, and were joined by some of our wonderful trustees, partners and of course, entrepreneurs we are supporting.
“We also welcomed the team from Virgin Active South Africa, who are playing a crucial role in partnering with the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, and the Virgin Atlantic team ensured it was a real Virgin family affair too.”
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