Eighty young Ogonis took part in an intensive 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 60 top performing participants were chosen to receive start-up funding to turn their business ideas into reality.

The 60 young entrepreneurs received their awards at a special graduation ceremony in Port Harcourt, along with six ‘outstanding’ beneficiaries from the previous programme in 2016 who also received ‘Young Business Leaders’ awards of N1.2 million (US $3,300). This additional funding to previous alumni, which is awarded in recognition of the successful growth of their businesses over the past year, will enable the entrepreneurs to achieve further growth and to create even more jobs.

Diverse sectors

The 60 young entrepreneurs from 2017 will use their funding to start businesses in a diverse array of sectors ranging from food processing and software development to agriculture and renewable energy.

Many of the entrepreneurs expressed their gratitude to SPDC and Shell LiveWIRE for the opportunity to turn their business dreams into reality:

“We will forever remain grateful to SPDC for the wonderful life-transforming package we received. Long live SPDC!” Legedu Dere

“I have been exposed to many opportunities that have changed my life. I have been given the necessary knowledge and wisdom to manage my business. Thank you Shell LiveWIRE for the training and the grant.” Eppie Douglas

“I am grateful to Shell LiveWIRE for giving me the wisdom and zeal to take my business to the next level.” Ziganubari Kogbara

Solar entrepreneur

Among the six entrepreneurs to receive ‘Young Business Leaders’ awards to fund their business growth ambitions is Prince Ledee Basil, whose solar energy business has expanded rapidly over the past 12 months. The business has sold over 200 different solar products and has entered into partnership with another company to expand its sales of solar panels. In addition to its commercial success, which has enabled the business to create employment opportunities for ten people, the business also organises solar energy awareness programmes for school students.

Another entrepreneur to benefit from growth funding is Eric Nyoo who runs a successful palm oil processing business. In addition to the extraction and processing of palm oil, Eric supplies the waste chaff for use as fuel. Currently employing three permanent staff, Eric also hopes to branch out into soap manufacture in the future.

The start-up awards presentation was attended by an audience of 300 key stakeholders, including government officials, senior community leaders, financiers, entrepreneurs and senior Shell personnel. Dignitaries in attendance included: Barrister Sylvanus Nwankwo, the Honourable Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs; and, HRM King G.N.K Gininwa, President of the Ogoni Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers and Chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers’ Council.

Royal praise

Acknowledging the support provided for the young entrepreneurs through the Shell LiveWIRE Nigeria programme, HRM King G.N.K Gininwa, said, “I want to thank Shell for this venture. I want to thank you for what you have done for us. Ogoni people will not forget what Shell is doing for the people of Ogoni.”

The Ogoni-specific programme was implemented to address one of the recommendations of the UNEP report on the restoration of the Ogoni environment, as Shell LiveWIRE aims to encourage youths in the area to shun illegitimate sources of income such as the illegal refining of crude oil.

A total of 6,500 young people from the Niger Delta have received enterprise development training since SPDC introduced the Shell LiveWIRE programme in 2003.