Let’s Go Trade (LGT) funding, totalling over US $30k, has been awarded to 14 businesses from eight Shell LiveWIRE countries, including: Brazil, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. The successful participants include businesses involved in sectors ranging from solar energy to mushroom farming, and waste management to automotive services.

Muhammad Shehryar, founder of Pakistan-based clean energy company, Harness Energy, used his LGT grant to visit China to investigate new products and to secure better trading terms with manufacturers.

Harness Energy is a social enterprise focused on providing high quality clean energy products, including solar lanterns, bioenergy and clean cook stoves to low income families in Punjab province. Employing five full-time and two part-time staff, along with 50 sales agents, Harness Energy aims to deliver clean energy solutions to the 100 million Pakistanis who live with chronic energy poverty each day. All of the company’s products come with extended warranties and micro-finance is available to customers who need it.

As a result of his LGT visit, Muhammad was able to visit develop trade deals with his existing and new manufacturers which will enable the company to provide the same quality of solar lantern but at a much lower price point, along with a two-year warranty. Also, from 2018 the products will be made available under the Harness Energy own label, which will help to increase profits and with maximising brand awareness.

Muhammad estimates that people in rural villages currently pay around Rs 500-600 (US $4 - $5) per month on alternative lighting sources and that his new lamp which costs Rs 500 will be an attractive proposition as it will provide pay-back to the customer within 30 days. In fact, Muhammad forecasts that the new Rs 500 solar lamp has the potential to generate over Rs one million (US $9,400) in monthly sales by 2019, and that the own label solar product ranges will increase sales by Rs 100 million (US $940k) by 2020, resulting in the company’s workforce growing to 40 employees.

The LGT visit also enabled Harness Energy to progress the introduction of a new 50W Solar Home System (SHS), which is a very competitively priced energy solution that Muhammad says will ‘revolutionise the way energy is consumed in Pakistani villages’.

Commenting on the impact of his LGT visit, Muhammad said, “Let’s Go Trade has provided me with the impetus I needed. It’s accelerated my timelines for product launches and sales targets by at least a factor of three!

“I see Harness Energy quickly becoming one of the biggest providers of clean energy solutions in Pakistani villages, and I am very bullish about our work in the coming years. I am glad I took up the LGT opportunity at this time!”

Exceeding expectations

Another entrepreneur to have just completed his LGT visit is Muhammad bin Haji Mus, founder of Syarikat Muqtazza, one of Brunei’s leading CCTV surveillance companies.

Employing eight staff, Syarikat Muqtazza retails and installs security and surveillance systems from one of the world’s leading manufacturers.

Muhammad decided to use his LGT grant to visit the UK to develop a partnership with a leading UK manufacturer of intruder alarm systems. The visit also enabled Muhammad to meet leading global wholesalers and to benchmark his business with industry best practices in the UK.

As a result of his LGT visit, Muhammad has developed a partnership that will enable him to introduce state of the art intruder alarm systems, to protect both premises and transportation assets, to the Bruneian market. This will strengthen the company’s position in the domestic market as a one-stop-shop for high quality, innovative security solutions.

The company will also train local unemployed people to become its installers and master dealers, creating skilled and certified individuals, in line with the Bruneian government’s agenda for the unemployed, who are marketable domestically and internationally.

Explaining the impact of LGT on his business, Muhammad said, ”Let’s Go Trade has broadened our minds and given us the opportunity to expand our business domestically and regionally by providing customers with the latest innovative technology at competitive prices.

“The visit exceeded our expectations and as well as enabling us to expand our business offering, we will help unemployed local people develop the skills and certifications they need to participate in the sector.

“Let’s Go Trade has provided us with the opportunity to think big and to grow big!”