Shell Iniciativa Empreendedora, the sister programme of Shell LiveWIRE in Brazil, has enabled young entrepreneurs to successfully align their new businesses to the oil and gas sector.
The programme encourages entrepreneurs of any age to develop business opportunities that support the oil and gas industry in Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo states, where the industry – including Shell – is most active.
To help support business development and job creation in the two states, Shell started the Shell Iniciativa Empreendedora programme in 2013. It attracted applications from more than 450 people. Each applicant was carefully assessed and 16 prospective entrepreneurs were selected for 80 hours of training in how to turn their ideas into a viable and sustainable business. Topics covered include business strategy, sales and marketing, accounting, business ethics, social responsibility, and the oil and gas value chain.
One of the entrepreneurs to successfully graduate from the programme is Lucas Jonis, a 25-year-old oceanographer who recently started his own business. Like most aspiring entrepreneurs, he found the process of turning an idea into a commercial enterprise a challenge.
"I spent several years researching the market and I had an idea I believed in,” he says. "But I didn't know how to shape it into a product and a business.”
Lucas developed his business idea while studying at university and working as an intern for an environmental survey company. There, he realised that the methods used to conduct environmental and industrial surveys were often expensive, low-tech and outdated. He decided to develop a more efficient and less costly alternative by using remotely operated "drones” to take high-quality images and generate better survey data.
He calls his company Neo Vision, and within the first six months of operating has already worked with two research institutes and signed partnership agreements with two large Brazilian companies.
Starting a company has not been easy. Despite limited money and time, Lucas is convinced he is doing the right thing.
"I feel like I'm living what I always dreamed,” he says. "While the financial returns are yet to come, I feel absolutely satisfied professionally, and that means a lot to me.”
Lucas and his two partners received valuable advice and training from Shell Iniciativa Empreendedora. Theirs was one of 16 fledgling companies selected from 450 applicants to take part in the inaugural 2013 edition of the annual programme.
Another who benefited from the programme is 29-year-old Natália Vital. Natália started a hostel – Hostel Plataforma – for oil and gas workers in the city of Macae. Many job-seekers flock to Macae in the hope of finding work in Brazil's growing oil and gas industry. Hotels are very expensive, so there is a need for affordable and comfortable accommodation.
Natália renovated the property herself and opened for business in June 2014. The hostel has seven bedrooms and can accommodate 28 guests. Despite an initial struggle she is already planning to expand, saying, "Demand is rising every day. We are already planning to increase the number of beds to 38 in the near future.”
For more on this story and to meet other graduates and entrepreneurs from the inaugural Shell Iniciativa Empreendedora programme, please click here.