Iniciativa Jovem, the Shell LiveWIRE scheme in Brazil, has held its prestigious annual business fair and awards event in Rio de Janeiro to showcase the latest entrepreneurial talent the programme has helped to develop.

33 young entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to present their fledgling businesses to an influential audience of 350 people, comprising business leaders, successful entrepreneurs, partner organisations, volunteers and members of the public, many of whom may be potential customers or suppliers.

The theme for business fair focused on the importance of design for small businesses and in the creation of commercially viable, socially responsible and financially sustainable enterprises. Keynote speeches by Taciana Abreu, Social Business Manager of the social enterprise accelerator Yunus, and design consultant, Clarissa Biolchini, paved the way for a panel discussion on the importance of design in generating social impact.

Eight young entrepreneurs, covering business sectors including organic farming, education and renewable energy, shared in prize funding totalling US $14,000 in recognition of the their innovation and growth during the programme. The prestigious top prize went to Henrique Drumond whose social business, Insolar, enables low-income communities to benefit from solar power. Focusing primarily on ‘pacified’ communities (favelas formerly run by drugs gangs which have been forced out by the police and the community has been returned to lawful governance), Insolar is dedicated to democratising access to solar energy in Brazil through the widespread installation of photovoltaic panels. One of Insolar’s first projects involved the installation of solar panels to power a children’s nursery in the Morro Dona Marta favela.

The runner up award was presented to Victor Piranda of Clube Orgânico, which provides a growing online clientele with their own choice of organic food products. Third place went to Bruno Souza’s personalised education business, Brun Ensino Personalizado, which aims to benefit 500 students in 2015.

The five other award winners included businesses involved with: preserving and promoting Brazilian music; manufacturing traditional Italian sweets; providing home improvement products online; delivering corporate wellbeing solutions; and, selling a tasty range of organic salads. There was also a public vote at the event for guests to choose their favourite business from the 33 Iniciativa Jovem participants, and this was won by Brownie da Rio, a company that produces chocolate brownies.

To reach this stage all 33 businesses have received help from Shell Iniciativa Jovem to develop their business model, test their product or service in the market, and produce a viable business plan which has been approved by market analysts.

The awards were judged by a panel of six business experts who selected the winning businesses based on: the candidate’s entrepreneurial qualities and business acumen; the use of innovation in the business; the viability and sustainability of the business model; and, the quality of a business pitch delivered by the entrepreneur.

Fabio Caldas, Director of External Affairs, Shell Brazil said, “It’s always energising to talk to creative entrepreneurs. And successful too! This year I was especially impressed to see that almost 80% of the businesses have moved from an idea on paper to becoming properly legalised entities.

“This event clearly shows us at Shell that the programme is achieving an important goal in encouraging the rise of leaders for sustainability.”

Over the next six months, the 33 businesses will participate in the ‘Business Factory’ stage of the programme, during which they will be provided with a special package of consultancy support and mentoring, along with regular check-ups, to enable them to develop and grow their businesses. They will also have the opportunity to submit their businesses for the programme’s prestigious ‘Seal of Sustainable Entrepreneurship’, which endorses the business model as being sustainable.