The entrepreneurs, whose start-ups cover business sectors ranging from bridal couture to waste recycling and agriculture to soap production, received expert guidance on growing their businesses, pitching for investment, marketing, networking and business relationship skills.

GroFin is a business development financier supporting viable, growth-oriented small businesses in the Niger Delta through the Aspire Small Business Fund (ASBF), supported by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Commenting on the Shell LiveWIRE Nigeria business scale-up workshop, Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, said, “This is part of the mentoring element of Shell LiveWIRE. Our aim is to continuously contribute to creating sustainable employment, economic growth and social development through the provision of business development assistance to youths, particularly in the Niger Delta.”

Speaking at the workshop, SPDC Social Performance Manager, Gloria Udoh encouraged the participants to make best use of the mentoring and linkage opportunities to take their enterprises to the next level, saying, “This is an opportunity to sharpen your presentation, marketing and business relationship skills; understand how to grow your business; and, learn how to make a successful pitch to access GroFin SME loans and other business support facilities.”

In order to be selected for the workshop, entrepreneurs must: have been running their business successfully for between 12 and 36 months; be based in Bayelsa, Delta or Rivers States; have created employment for others; and, aspire to grow their businesses.

One of the entrepreneurs to have benefited from the workshop is Stella Nnaji, founder of Orkadux Paint, an alumnus of the Shell LiveWIRE Nigeria programme in 2015 who produces lead-free paint. She has already grown her business to employ one full-time and three casual staff, and has received special recognition from the WHO and UNEP as a contributor to the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (GAELP) campaign.

Commenting on the impact of the workshop, Stella said, “The workshop was filled with so much energy, motivation and opportunities.” She thanked Shell and its joint venture partners for the Shell LiveWIRE programme which she said was making a world of difference in the growth of small and medium sized businesses in the Niger Delta.

Another participant, Patience Odibo was equally impressed by the workshop, saying, “The workshop was a real eye-opener. The tips on effective business presentation were mind-blowing and opened my eyes to a bigger market.

“Most of all, the workshop has enabled me to see the future of my business and I know it’s time to scale-up.”

Both Stella and Patience plan to implement all they learned during the workshop, and to make use of the opportunity that GroFin is offering to grow their businesses and create more jobs.