Let’s Go Trade (LGT), which was first run in 2015, will support a new wave of Shell LiveWIRE alumni to undertake international trade visits that will potentially open up new markets and accelerate innovation within their businesses.

The programme is aimed at those who have been in business for between 12 months and five years, with a minimum of five employees, who would like to undertake an international visit to investigate new markets and ways to innovate in their business – in order to become more sustainable, increase their turnover and the number of jobs they create.

Up to three businesses from the 15 countries in which Shell LiveWIRE operates can be invited by their Programme Manager to apply online for an LGT grant which will cover up to 50% of the travel and accommodation costs, up to a maximum of US $3k, associated with their market visit. LGT involves competitive selection, with a total of 20 grants available for 2017, and all market visits must be undertaken sometime between 1 May to 31 August.

Successful applicants will have to demonstrate an ambition to trade internationally, that they are ready to grow their business through innovation, and are able to make a robust case for an international market visit to develop the innovation in order to: gain new business opportunities in a new market; to develop or implement an innovation which will provide a competitive advantage in their market sector; develop an energy transition innovation; or, to explore opportunities for the innovation within Shell’s supply chain.

Participants in the 2015 LGT programme included businesses from eight Shell LiveWIRE countries involved in sectors ranging from renewable energy to natural cosmetics, and medical training to e-health. Specific reasons identified by participants for their LGT visits ranged from implementing the latest production technology to improving production efficiency and conducting market research to establish regional distribution networks.

Among the participants to have undertaken an LGT visit in 2015 is technology entrepreneur Erica Castilho from Brazil, whose company, Web Moment specialises in digital marketing and web development. Erica chose to visit London to explore the potential for internationalising her marketplace builder product, N2N Virtual, which provides a platform to connect SMEs with customers and potential collaborators. During her visit, Erica attended London Tech Week and a series of business events organised by United Kingdom Trade & Investment (UKTI). As a result, Erica was able to benchmark her business against other similar IT companies and to meet potential partners and competitors. She also visited incubator workspace facilities, with a view to opening a new international office.

Looking for opportunities to innovate within her business in order to facilitate international expansion, Erica also investigated online payment platforms and selected PayPal as the best solution for her business.

Commenting on the impact of her LGT visit, Erica said, “The visit has been a game-changing experience! It has enabled us to investigate new technologies that will allow us to reach new markets around the world, and we have validated our business model in Europe.

“Now we plan to expand the business around the world!”

Over the next five years, Erica expects to achieve 40% of sales from international customers and to establish affiliated companies in Europe, Latin America and the US.

Erica concludes by saying, “Without our Let’s Go Trade visit we would definitely not now be on the threshold of expanding the business internationally.”

Anita Yuli, founder of Emeno Nursing Wear from Indonesia, used her LGT grant to travel to the UK to investigate innovations that would enhance her fashion label for breastfeeding mothers.

Explaining the outcome of her visit, Anita said, “The LGT experience was awesome! It has enabled me to prioritise R&D to improve and grow my business. Innovations I have already implemented have led to a 10% increase in earnings, and I am also introducing a new online store.”

Clean energy innovator Capture Mobility, which turns traffic turbulence into renewable energy, has developed important new business opportunities in China thanks to LGT.

They used their LGT grant to explore the market for clean energy in China and to find suitable partners to work with on manufacturing, project development, and investment opportunities, in order to expand the business. The company visited power companies in three different industrial and business hubs in Beijing, Jiangsu and Guangzhou in order to assess the quality and capacity of different manufacturers to supply customised generators.

Following a series of extremely useful meetings with several companies, Capture Mobility secured valuable deals which will strengthen the company and provide opportunities for growth.

Deals struck with Chinese turbine manufacturers will enable Capture Mobility to significantly reduce their production costs and improve the efficiency of their generators, which will give the company a competitive edge when scaling up production. The partnerships will also enable the company to brand their turbines, which will deliver beneficial marketing opportunities moving forward.

Commenting on the impact of their LGT visit, Hassan Waqar of Capture Mobility said, “The visit was a great help for us to find the reliable manufacturers, suitable partners and investment companies required to enter the Chinese market. We appreciate the support of Shell in empowering us to be where we are now.

“The LGT visit enabled us to develop a more efficient product which meets the requirements of the European market. It also gave us an invaluable insight into the Chinese market and has given us the opportunity to work on exciting clean energy projects in collaboration with the Chinese and Scottish Governments.”

Outlining the value of the LGT programme in enabling young entrepreneurs to develop their businesses internationally, Hassan said, “Let’s Go Trade provides a tremendous opportunity for young businesses to explore other markets and create new partnerships. It gives you the wings to scale up and learn more about your market in different regions. We really appreciate the support of Shell for giving us the opportunity to step forward and show our work to the world.”

Muhammad Saifullah, Project Coordinator of Shell Tameer, said, “Capture Mobility is an inspiring example of Shell Tameer’s commitment to provide global opportunities to its young entrepreneurs. Their Let’s Go Trade visit to China is a game-changing opportunity to strengthen their global presence and deliver improved product quality in compliance with international standards.”