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In defence of capitalism and entrepreneurs

There are many drawbacks to capitalism. But capitalism and entrepreneurship are proven to still be the best way people around the world can progress forwards.

A handful of greedy people (mainly within banks) have fundamentally created the financial mess that we are in. But what people have got to be careful of (and I’m not biased!) is not dismissing every single entrepreneur out there – the restaurant owners, the street vendors, the start-ups, even the airline owners, because of the actions of the unscrupulous few.

It is through the capitalist system that people get paid, hospitals get built, innovative ideas become reality and young people get educated. Yet the way some of the press and some politicians talk, there is a danger of a complete dismissal of capitalism and a complete swing in the other direction.

Luke Johnson, a brilliant entrepreneur who also happens to be a great writer and thinker, wrote on this subject in the Financial Times recently, and I agree with him wholeheartedly.

He said: “Possibly, capitalism is poor at promoting the cause and explaining its merits.

“No doubt most highly successful entrepreneurs are tough individuals. Some break the rules, but damning an entire class for the high-profile errors of the few is destructive and ill-judged.”

It is becoming fashionable now to try to knock entrepreneurs, the very people who are going to create the jobs of the future. Just being an entrepreneur, making a difference to other people’s lives is a tremendous thing to do, but on top of that, ideally each company should become a force for good, as I explained in my recent book. Let’s continue to screw business as usual.

By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group

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