The Shell LiveWIRE ‘Let’s Go Trade’ (LGT) programme is aimed at those who have been in business for between 12 months and five years, who would like to undertake an international visit to investigate new markets and ways to innovate in their business – in order to become more sustainable, increase their turnover and the number of jobs they create.

LGT funding, totalling US $33k, has been approved for 15 businesses from eight Shell LiveWIRE countries, namely: Brazil, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. The successful participants include businesses involved in sectors ranging from solar energy to mushroom farming, and waste management to medical products. The LGT grants cover 50% of the costs of travel and accommodation, up to a maximum of US $3,000 per participant.

China is the most popular destination selected by participants, with three entrepreneurs planning to visit there, closely followed by the UK, US, Taiwan and Ghana. Other visit destinations include, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, UAE, Spain, Germany, Finland and Mozambique.

Specific reasons identified by participants for the first wave of visits range from implementing the latest production technology to improving production efficiency and conducting market research to establishing new business partnerships.

Success in China

One business that took part in the LGT programme in 2015 is clean energy innovator Capture Mobility, which turns traffic turbulence into renewable energy.

They used their LGT grant to explore the Chinese market for clean energy and to find suitable partners to work with on manufacturing, project development, and investment opportunities, in order to expand the business. The company visited power companies in three different industrial and business hubs in Beijing, Jiangsu and Guangzhou in order to assess the quality and capacity of different manufacturers to supply customised generators.

Following a series of extremely useful meetings with several companies, Capture Mobility secured valuable deals which will strengthen the company and provide opportunities for growth.

Deals struck with Chinese turbine manufacturers will enable Capture Mobility to significantly reduce their production costs and improve the efficiency of their generators, which will give the company a competitive edge when scaling up production. The partnerships will also enable the company to brand their turbines, which will deliver beneficial marketing opportunities moving forward.

Competitive advantage

Commenting on the impact of their LGT visit, Sanwal Muneer of Capture Mobility said, “We are currently negotiating contract details aligned to the Smart City Agenda 2020, which will result in new business worth between $60-80k.

“We also have a contract with a quality vendor to produce our new generators, which are more than 12% more efficient than our previous turbines. This enables us to produce 20% more energy per turbine per day, which means that the payback time for the turbine reduces from 2 years to 1.6 years. That is a great competitive advantage for us!

“Let’s Go Trade has been a great experience, enabling us to improve the efficiency of our product and to develop new business opportunities.”

Outlining the value of the LGT programme in enabling young entrepreneurs to develop their businesses internationally, Hassan Waqar of Capture Mobility said, “Let’s Go Trade provides a tremendous opportunity for young businesses to explore other markets and create new partnerships. It gives you the wings to scale up and learn more about your market in different regions. We really appreciate the support of Shell for giving us the opportunity to step forward and show our work to the world.”

Green developments

Another 2015 LGT participant, Iffah Billah Hj Junaidi, Director of Bruneian business, RAB Global Green Sdn Bhd, B.F.B Agrotechnology Company and Tropica Solar Photovoltaic Company, chose China (Xiamen) and Taiwan as her visit destinations because she wanted to gain a better understanding of how she could incorporate a fully integrated production line into the first ‘green’ pilot factory currently under construction in Brunei.

Throughout the trip Iffah took every opportunity to experience and learn every aspect of the production, manufacturing process, R&D, advertising and marketing of her business, from bio-degradable and environmentally-friendly fire extinguishers to a self-sustaining Aquaponics eco-system and energy-efficient solar PV modules.

Commenting on the impact of her LGT visit, Iffah said, “As a result of the visit I have signed strategic partnerships and am negotiating with several public listed companies in China, Taiwan, France and Africa.

“We have also attracted the interest of potential investors who have visited us to see how we can succeed together internationally.

“I have met potential collaborators in other parts of China, and also from the US and Middle East.”

North America expansion

Michael Korn from UK company KwickScreen used his 2015 LGT grant to visit the US and Canada to develop new business opportunities for his portable, retractable and printable room dividers.

The LGT visit enabled Michael to attend a large healthcare conference and to introduce his products to potential distributors and hospital staff, both of which provided a positive market response.

His LGT visit delivered tangible business development opportunities for KwickScreen, and as a result of his visit the company has appointed a new distributor in Canada which has generated an increase in turnover of around £50k (US $64.6k) and generated two new jobs. At the same time, the company has also signed up five new distributors throughout Europe.

The visit enabled Michael to undertake further R&D to enhance his products and also to improve the company’s sales and marketing strategies. As a result, the company has identified opportunities for significant growth over the next 12 months as it targets the North American market.

Michael sums up his LGT experience as, “Transformative in allowing us to broaden our horizons overseas.”