The three energy solutions entrepreneurs received their awards as winners of a pitching competition for innovative young Nigerian start-ups from the clean energy sector as part of Shell’s #makethefuture Accelerator event in Port Harcourt.

Ngozi Deborah Atalor of De-rahbs Energy Services won the top award of N1m (US $2,700) to strengthen her company which specialises in solar panel construction, installation and maintenance. The judges were particularly impressed by Ngozi’s vision on how to light up all homes in Nigeria, describing it as ‘convincing and realizable’.

This latest boost for De-rahbs Energy Services comes less than a month after Ngozi’s success in winning a US $5,000 merit award in the Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators; a global competition to recognise and reward outstanding innovation among businesses supported by Shell LiveWIRE programmes around the world.

Two other runners-up, both supported by the Shell LiveWIRE Nigeria programme, each received N500k (US $1,380) for their efforts in delivering energy solutions to customers in the Niger Delta and beyond: Prince Ledee Basi of Basiled Energy Ventures offers renewable energy, safety wear and sensitisation services on the use of solar products, and Ibiere Gilbert David of David’s Ibdav Resources provides bio-fuel clean cook stoves.

In addition to the funding, the three entrepreneurs will receive coaching support from Co-creation Hub, a leading innovation hub in Nigeria.

Speaking at the #makethefuture Accelerator event, Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, said “There is energy transition as we speak, and things are changing towards cleaner energy. Nigeria should be part of those solutions that would sustain the globe going forward.

“What we have done with the #makethefuture Accelerator event is to provide a platform for young Nigerian energy entrepreneurs to share their ideas on how they can be part of providing power solutions.”

The remaining N26m (US $71.8k) was awarded during two regional presentations to 65 young entrepreneurs who successfully completed the Shell LiveWIRE Nigeria enterprise development programme, which enabled participants to gain the essential skills required to start-up and grow a successful business. Following the training, each pitched their business idea to an expert panel of judges and the 65 top performing participants were chosen to receive start-up funding to turn their business ideas into reality.

The enterprises covered a diverse array of sectors ranging from food processing and software development to agriculture and renewable energy.

N12m (US $33.1k) was awarded to 35 young entrepreneurs in a special presentation in Bayelsa state, while N14m (US $38.7k) was awarded to a further 30 stat-ups in Effurun, Delta State, attended by John Uduaghan, SPDC Infrastructure Manager who said that the funding would enable the entrepreneurs to kick-start their businesses or expand existing ventures.

Speaking at the Bayelsa presentation, Collins Cocodia, the Bayelsa Commissioner for Youth Development complimented Shell for investing in youth enterprise development, and urged the entrepreneurs to maximise the opportunity by growing their businesses and creating employment opportunities for others.

One of the entrepreneurs to receive funding is Sapele Lawrence who will use his grant to develop his fish farm. Sapele said, “This grant is a welcome development. My dream is to have six ponds and this funding will go a long way to achieving this, and I’ll need to hire more labour.”

A total of 6,580 young people from the Niger Delta have received enterprise development training since SPDC introduced the Shell LiveWIRE programme in 2003.