Over 14,000 young people applied for a place on the 2015 Shell LiveWIRE programme, and following a rigorous screening process, 150 were selected to attend 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, candidates had to negotiate a written test and had to pitch their business ideas to an expert panel of judges. As a result of this process, 21 budding young entrepreneurs were selected to receive the funding they required to turn their business ideas into a business reality.

The 21 young entrepreneurs received their start-up grants at a special presentation event at the Shell Residential Area Club in Port Harcourt. In addition to the awards presentation, the event also included a business ideas pitching session and a panel discussion on starting and running a successful business in Nigeria led by SME experts. There was also an exhibition by past Shell LiveWIRE beneficiaries, and the official inauguration of LiveWIRE Nigeria alumni.

The event was attended by 180 guests, including government officials and dignitaries from the public and private sector who support youth enterprise development. Guests included: the Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Bayelsa State; the Commissioner for Science, Technology and Manpower Development, Bayelsa State; the Director Youth Enterprise Development & Promotion, Rivers State; and, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Employment Generation and Empowerment, Rivers State. Also in attendance were: Helen Sullivan, Shell Global Social Investment Manager; Miguel Ruiz-Larrea, Shell Global Social Performance Manager; and, Joanna Cochrane, Vice President Social Performance.

A special award for innovation, ‘The Andi Prize’, was presented to Gladys Nwabueze by Gloria Udoh ER Social Performance/Social Investment Manager. Gladys is grateful to the programme for equipping her with the skills and knowledge to start her business, which provides feminine hygiene products aimed at women from low-income households. Commenting on her success, Gladys said, “I am so grateful. Thank you to Shell LiveWIRE.”

Another of the grant recipients, Ighoja Ighoja Oghenerukewve, was also appreciative of the support he has received from the programme, saying, “I am grateful to Shell LiveWIRE. Shell LiveWIRE has changed my orientation. I have been truly impacted by Shell LiveWIRE.”

Representing Igo Weli, ER General Manager, Nigeria and West Africa, Evans Krukrubo, Head Community Interface and Stakeholder Relations Shell Nigeria, said, “I congratulate our beneficiaries and urge them to be steadfast and determined to succeed at their various ventures irrespective of the challenges.

“You have already shown undeniable promise. You completed the two week long training, wrote and passed the two hour examination, pitching your business idea to test your entrepreneurial skills, and proved your ability to produce bankable business plans.”

Other key stakeholders also gave their praise to Shell LiveWIRE Nigeria: “The best way to empower people is to develop their mindset not to just give money, that is what Shell has done through the LiveWIRE programme. So, I want to congratulate you for this LiveWIRE programme, it is a good initiative.” Honourable Indutimi Komonibo, Commissioner for Science, Technology and Manpower Development.

“We are very glad that Shell is playing a very critical role that would provide, develop and in most cases finance the budding entrepreneurs of tomorrow.” Kemela Okara, Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment.

“We also use this opportunity to commend SPDC for the numerous investment programmes being embarked upon in fulfilment of your CSR to Rivers State. On the programme of today, it cannot be over emphasised that helping our young people start their own businesses and turn their ideas into long-term sources of income truly constitute LiveWIRE to them.” The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Employment Generation and Empowerment “We thank the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited for living up to her social responsibility in so many areas of human development, especially to design this wonderful sustainable programme, Shell LiveWIRE, which aims to improve opportunities for our youths to realise, discover and recover their hidden talents and potential through creating and developing their businesses.” Mrs Comfort Iragunime, The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth Development, represented by Dr Ugwuzor Festus, Director, Youth Enterprise Development/Promotion, Ministry of Youth Development.

Since 2003, Shell LiveWIRE Nigeria has trained and empowered over 6,000 young people, of which 3,000 have been assisted to set up businesses through the programme’s start-up awards. Also, the businesses graduating from the 2014 programme have achieved a combined profit of around N10 million (US $50,000).