In addition to supporting its current and third cohort, Shell LiveWIRE (SLW) Trinidad and Tobago has launched an exciting alumni support programme for graduates of its first two cohorts.

“We have a couple of initiatives, around marketing and promotion of entrepreneurs through different avenues, including social media where we have successfully conducted live sessions on Instagram,” said Shedron Collins, General Manager of LiveWIRE implementing partner, YBTT. “We are also developing case studies and a deal book, containing alumni businesses and profiles, which we plan to distribute in the second half of the year to different stakeholders, including investors and local buyers such as supermarkets. Through our networks, we are always looking for new opportunities for alumni”.

One key opportunity has led to ten out of thirteen entrepreneurs from the programme’s second cohort receive a considerable discount to become members of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Membership affords the entrepreneurs benefits such as access to research publications and trade information, on-demand webinars, business referrals, and networking and branding opportunities.

SLW Trinidad and Tobago has also designed a suite of self-select support services for alumni, which began in May and run until October. These are individual one-on-one consulting sessions with experts across several fields including finance and marketing.

Alumni are provided with six tokens to “spend” among the offerings. So far 11 of 29 alumni have already selected their consulting sessions, some are held in-person or conducted virtually.

“The aim was to give alumni choices. We didn’t want them to feel like they were in a formal programme, we wanted to give them opportunities to build their own course according to their own schedule and areas of interest”, said Collins.

There are seven different marketing consulting courses, including branding and logo design, photography and editing, and brand strategy development.

A business financial support course provides sessions with a finance expert that covers accounting, preparing for audits, implementing new accounting systems, and calculating financial runway.

Petal Joseph Roberts, who selected a mix of financial and marketing consultancies, said: “We knew we needed financial guidance and help, and we also wanted some support in the branding and marketing area. So those were the alumni consultancies we chose”

Sharing her consulting experiences, Shauna Grant, who founded the Flour Bag Baking Company, said “I just felt these were necessary at this time. It’s been a great experience. Wish I had some more time with the finance consultancy; this was really beneficial for helping me understand the best way to document my financials as well as how to use the information for decision making. The coaching consultancy came just in time to help me refocus when dealing with the stresses of growing the business.”

Another consulting course focuses on developing emotional and conversational intelligence competencies.

Participants will also be able to take part in a consulting course on business capacity development that covers operations, product development, outsourcing and distribution.

In the second half of the year, alumni will gain access to new curated resources and SLW Trinidad and Tobago is exploring the possibility of networking with other country programmes to connect entrepreneurs and share knowledge among those with similar businesses.