Five entrepreneurs from Sabah have each received an RM 10,000 (US $2,380) seed grant from Shell LiveWIRE Malaysia to kick-start their fledgling businesses.

With businesses ranging from interlocking bricks to organic farming certification, the entrepreneurs will also benefit from three years’ mentoring and coaching support from Shell LiveWIRE to help establish themselves in the marketplace.

The winners were selected after going through a series of workshops and a stringent business model assessment competition.

The programme, which is running for the fourth year in Sabah, started with the Sabah Shell LiveWIRE Bright Ideas workshops, held in Penampang, Kenigau and Kota Kinabalu, earlier this year. Over 80 budding entrepreneurs took part in the workshops, which are designed to develop business ideas with the highest potential and enhance understanding of the local market.

Thirty entrepreneurs with the best business ideas were then selected to attend a rigorous Become a Successful Owner Manager workshop; an enterprise development programme which equips entrepreneurs with the tools and acumen to develop a viable, robust business model. A stringent assessment process then identified the 10 business plans with most potential, and the entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to an expert panel of judges, who selected the top five to receive funding based on the viability of their business model, its commercial potential, their entrepreneurial acumen and the strength of their pitch.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Disney Edward Lai, from the Sabah Ministry of Education & Innovation, who served as one of the judges, said, “Our youth today have many innovative business ideas but may lack the resources and support to turn them into a reality. With the Sabah Shell LiveWIRE programme, an avenue has been created for the young generation to build and grow a sustainable career on the entrepreneurial front.”

The two other judges who were involved in selecting the five award recipients are Yip Yoke-Hwa, Senior Manager for Shell Malaysia Upstream Contracting & Procurement, and Datuk Margaret Fung, former CEO of Sabah Energy.

The five young entrepreneurs who successfully pitched to receive start-up funding are:

Marny Talu, Goyo Interlocking Bricks

Inspired by the rising costs of housing, Marny began manufacturing her own interlocking bricks that will significantly lower the costs of building a home by reducing the amount of cement used, painting required, and time needed.

Pison Jaujip, Sabah Jams

A celebrity Kadazan Dusun chef from Kota Kinabalu, has used his culinary skills to produce homemade, preservative and additive free jams using local vegetable and fruit produce such as ‘tuhau’, ‘bambangan’, ‘bunga kantan’, and ‘tarap’.

Norfaranina Zaki, Hoola Bangle Keyring

Having faced the struggles as a mother with her hands full with toddlers, Fara has developed a fashionable bangle keyring to ensure hands are kept free while still having keys within easy reach.

Natasha Sherena Idris, Avanus Pendant Perfume

A trained perfumer, Natasha has developed an innovative and stylish way of carrying your favourite fragrance on your body through a pendant attached to a necklace or bracelet, that combine the beading traditions of Borneo with your very own signature scent.

Irene Mositol, Dumo Organic

Irene, from Tamparuli, intends to empower farmers to achieve the Malaysian Organic Certificate (SOM) kitemark in their current practices and support them through marketing and distribution beyond the rural markets.

Commenting on her award, Irene Mositol said, “When I first joined the programme, all I had was an idea. I still can’t believe that in only a matter of three months, I now have a business plan, projected cash flows, and a better understanding of how to grow the idea into a fully-fledged business. Thanks to what I’ve learned on the Sabah Shell LiveWIRE programme, and the confidence it has instilled in me, I am looking forward to working towards turning my idea into a reality.

Natasha Sherena Idris added, “The dedication of and perseverance of the Sabah Shell LiveWIRE coaches has given me a renewed hope to continue working on my business and bringing it to the next level.

Speaking at the awards presentation, Prithipal Singh, General Manager, Sabah Shell Petroleum Company Ltd, said, “Sabah Shell LiveWIRE is aimed at infusing an unyielding and results-driven mindset among the young entrepreneurs of today. It’s also a platform that educates and provides the support needed for potential entrepreneurs to kick-start and grow their businesses.

By bringing our Bright Ideas workshops to more locations this year, we were able to attract entrepreneurs from various parts of Sabah. Not only did they bring with them rich and diverse ideas, they also demonstrated tenacity and determination throughout this programme, which most certainly left me impressed.

Since its inception in 2015, 282 entrepreneurs have had contact with the Sabah Shell LiveWIRE programme, with 18 enterprises receiving funding.

One of last year’s entrepreneurs to receive funding is Sariyaman binti Sabur, whose business, PADAidi, produces innovative products, such as tapioca nuggets, from the oversupply of tapioca in Kunak. Through the coaching she received, Sariyaman focused her efforts on research and development to create new products from Kunak’s tapiocas. Her company has grown to employ five full time staff, and has many distribution agents across the state. Focused on the further growth of her company, Sariyaman now aims to introduce her tapioca-based products to the international market.