Start-ups supported by Shell LiveWIRE South Africa have reported increases in turnover of between 70 and 500%, according to an evaluation of the programme.

Entrepreneurs also highlight job creation, valuable networking, improved governance, better financial management and enhanced sales and marketing operations as a result of their participation in the programme.

According to the evaluation Shell LiveWIRE South Africa, since it’s relaunch in 2014, in collaboration with delivery partner Raizcorp, has impacted 141 entrepreneurs, of which twenty-seven have produced business plans, and five have received business incubation support.

Shell LiveWIRE South Africa has also enabled two of the entrepreneurs it’s helped to start-up to become part of Shell’s supply chain. Thabitha Malinga, applied to Shell LiveWIRE in 2014 with an idea to start her own beauty business. As a result of three years of incubation support, she started TMS Mobile Spa to deliver a range of beauty and wellness services, and has been able to purchase a vehicle and set up a flagship spa in Midrand. Thabitha now employs 11 part-time staff, and is an approved Shell vendor, having delivered a wellness day for Shell employees.

Commenting on the impact of becoming a Shell vendor on her business, Thabitha said, “Being a Shell service provider has had a major impact on my business. The moment someone knows you’re part of Shell’s supply chain, then they know there’s something you’re doing right.”

Thabitha plans to continue to grow her business, and to set up a beauty training school, for which she has already identified premises.

Highlighting one of the evaluation’s key findings, Thabitha is keen to underline the impact the programme has had on her business’ finances, saying, “LiveWIRE has enabled me to see amazing growth spurts in a very short period of time. Our revenue increased rapidly because we have the capacity.”

Another entrepreneur, Ipeleng also points to improved finances, saying, “As a consequence of my participation in the Shell LiveWIRE programme, I continue to witness improved results in fundamental areas such as sales and turnover.”

Lloyd Babedi, the founder of Barkzz World, a company that provides motivational speaking and DJ services, as well as branded clothing and corporate gifts, is another alumnus who has become a Shell supplier. As a person living with a disability, Lloyd has had to face more challenges than many other entrepreneurs, however he is quick to acknowledge the advantage that Shell LiveWIRE provided, saying, “The programme taught me the ways of running a business and built my confidence within the entrepreneurial sector. Shell LiveWIRE has shown that disability doesn’t mean inability, and enables you to succeed despite the physical challenges.”

Commenting on the evaluation, Ntobeko Mogadime, SI Adviser and Shell LiveWIRE South Africa Programme Manager said, “Our aim is to be the best youth enterprise development programme in the country, and to achieve that we need to take a sense check on how we are doing versus our ambitions and benchmark. This process of evaluation has provided constructive feedback to improve Shell LiveWIRE against our current design and against other key players in the market. I am excited to see the direction and outcome of the new design of the programme.”