The first cohort of Shell LiveWIRE Trinidad & Tobago graduated in a ceremony hosted by the LiveWIRE team and implementing partner Youth Business Trinidad & Tobago. During the ceremony, External Relations Adviser Leslie Bowrin focused on the nature of entrepreneurship and the important role that each graduate has in shaping the programme’s continued success and inspiration to others.

To close out the programme, the 16 graduates competed in a pitch contest before four judges: Shedron Collins, general manager of Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago; Gerard Thomas, founder of Launch RockIt; Cindy C. Mascall, finance manager projects, Shell Trinidad and Tobago; and John Gransaull of Angel Investor Network. Three entrepreneurs earned top prizes in the amount of $35,000TTD, $20,000TTD and $10,000TTD.

“I am extremely honoured and humbled to have come out as the grand prize winner of the programme and feel like the takeaways have been immense personally, and for our company,” said Stacy Seeteram, Caribbean Cure. “The LiveWIRE experience was focused and rewarding. There was a lot of time, and energy investment in the programme but I am wiser and more rounded as a businesswoman for it. For me, many of my practical business skills were honed, the SME synergies within and around the programme were really rewarding; the networking with other small business has been very fun but also promising in terms of budding business relationships.”

Shell LiveWIRE Trinidad & Tobago’s accelerator programme supports growth-stage start-ups that work in recycling and waste management, energy solutions, and agriculture and agri-processing. The five-month programme is designed to help entrepreneurs refine their technical focus, develop their business and leadership skills, and manage resources.

For many of the entrepreneurs, this programme was their first introduction to the nuts and bolts of running a business.

“The most significant change I experienced was learning about the importance of (intellectual property),” said Joel Stapleton. Thanks to the Shell LiveWIRE training, Stapleton’s company filed a patent within the United States and are undergoing the patent and trademark process within Trinidad.

Satira Bajnath, who runs agro-processing company Indigenous Flavours, said the programme helped her rethink her communications approach.

The (programme helped me) develop confidence to significantly change my marketing strategies and network with valuable persons to engage in meaningful partners,” she said.

Shell LiveWIRE Trinidad & Tobago also awarded the Spark Prize Awards at the graduation ceremony. These three awards gave $10,000TTD to the entrepreneur with the best class attendance, the entrepreneur with the best class participation, and the entrepreneur who won the class vote.

“I feel really humbled to have been selected by a group of such intellectually amazing individuals. And honoured to be Shell LiveWIRE’s first ‘Mr. Congeniality’!” said Harlon Mark Dassrath of Organo Farms, who took home to class participation prize.

“Winning class vote was very surprising!” said class vote winner, Shennelle Hills-Fife of De Jeunesse Bath and Body Products. “I honestly had no idea or even thought that I might have won that so I was very happy to know that I had the class’ support. It really means a lot to me because I had really wanted to get some new equipment for my business to help my quality increase even more and because of the prize I am now able to do that.”

The graduates can all receive support to pitch their businesses to investors for loans or equity through an Investor Readiness Consultancy. This consultancy is a programme with LaunchRockIt that connects entrepreneurs with local angel investors. Selected participants are also eligible for the Export Readiness Consultancy and a cash prize for the first to export. This prize as well as an Innovation in Marketing Award will be awarded in July.

Visit Shell LiveWIRE Trinidad & Tobago’s website for more information on its programme and entrepreneurs.