The Shell LiveWIRE South Africa programme provides four phases of support to enable young people to turn their enterprising ideas into a viable business.

In November 2015, 50 budding entrepreneurs were selected to attend the first phase of the programme; the one day ‘Bright Ideas Workshop’. Here, participants were given the opportunity to test and refine their business ideas and received an insight into the top five business opportunities within Shell’s value chain. Each candidate pitched their business idea to a panel of experts, and 17 were chosen to progress to the next stage of the programme; ‘Business Planning & Management Training’, in January 2016. This five day intensive training programme took participants through six modules to equip them with key business skills including: marketing, finance, business planning, human resource and self-management.

Nine candidates were then selected to attend the next stage, the ‘Pre-Prosperator Programme’ business development phase. This three month programme enabled the budding entrepreneurs to develop and refine their business model and to produce a viable business plan, which can be used to secure funding from commercial institutions or government backed youth development agencies. During the programme, each candidate attended a series of business development lectures combined with personal one-to-one guidance as they researched, developed and refined their business plan. At the end of the programme, the nine entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to experts from Shell, including senior managers from CSI, ER and C&P, and three entrepreneurs were awarded top honours based on the viability of their business plan, and their ability to take their start-up to market.

The young entrepreneurs to receive top honours from the programme, and to have developed a viable business plan, are:

Sechaba Mokhethi and Neo Morakile of Relive IT. Based in Soweto, this business provides a wide range of IT support, hardware sales, domain hosting and web development, network installation, CCTV, and data recovery services.

Thabitha Malinga’s business, TMS Mobile Spa comprises a network of beauty spa professionals offering a variety of beauty treatments including: manicures and pedicures; facials; body massage; and other body treatments. Operating in the Johannesburg area, the business caters for corporate events, weddings, bridal showers and many other beauty related events.

Prempeh Akontoh’s start-up, DPB Productions specialises in video production, graphic design and video streaming for event coordinators, trainers, educators and other entertainment producers. DPB Productions aims to become a leading global communications agency specialising in the delivery of audio, visual and multi-media design content.

In addition to its range of beauty spa services, TMS Mobile Spa also provides a holistic wellness programme, and Shell’s Health Department has expressed interest in engaging the business within its own Shell Wellness programme in the future, and are already in the process of developing this opportunity with Thabitha.

Each of the three businesses will now benefit from a three year programme of post start-up support. Each business has been assessed to determine where there are gaps in their strategies and will be provided with a mentor to close these gaps. The businesses will also benefit from business incubation support, including access to ICT and office facilities through the programme’s implementing partner, Raizcorp. They will also benefit from business networking opportunities and signposting to finance. Over the three years, a quarterly report on each business will monitor key KPIs including the increase in revenue and number of people employed.

Speaking of the benefits he derived from the Shell LiveWIRE South Africa programme, Sechaba Mokhethi of Relive IT, said, “One of the most important aspects was enabling us to structure the business and to devise a strategic vision. Shell LiveWIRE guided us in so many ways.”

Prempeh Akontoh of DPB Productions is also appreciative of the support he received from the programme, saying, “I really did like the Shell LiveWIRE programme. I like what it has done for me personally and for my business.”

Thabitha Malinga of TMS Mobile Spa highlighted the impact of the programme on her business, saying, “As the journey progressed I started noticing a difference in myself as a person, as an entrepreneur and my outlook and business model changed completely – for the better!

“Shell has given me an opportunity, guiding and mentoring me and providing incubation for my business. I think it’s just an incredible initiative!”

Ntobeko Mogadime, Shell LiveWIRE South Africa Programme Manager, said, “The Shell LiveWIRE programme continues to play an integral role in the Shell South Africa Social Investment strategy, and also in respect of the country’s transformation agenda. Not only does it allow us to address key issues like youth unemployment, but it also enables collaboration to develop opportunities to enable young black owned businesses to enter our value chain, contributing to the country’s nation building.

“The opportunity to integrate young black owned businesses into our supply chain is a huge benefit in achieving their sustainability, but also in ensuring our supply chain is reflective of local demographics. We realise that there is a long way to go in helping to create businesses that are core to our supply chain, however we endeavour to move towards that each year as we incorporate lessons learned into each phase of the programme.”

To watch a video of the three entrepreneurs, please click here.