Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on Thursday donated N40 million to 100 Niger Delta youths to invest in start-up businesses.
SPDC’s General Manager, External Relations, Mr Igo Weli, made this known at the 2016 Graduation and Award Ceremony for 100 beneficiaries of its LiveWIRE programme in Port Harcourt.
Weli said that the 100 beneficiaries would join about 6,350 youths who had been trained in enterprise development and management since the programme’s inception in 2003.
According to him, LiveWIRE programme is designed to contribute to economic empowerment and job creation for Niger Delta youths in SPDC host communities.
“Today, a new pool of 100 young men and women from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states will swell the ranks of the privileged that have over the years satisfactorily benefited from the programme.
“Twenty one of the beneficiaries in this batch have chosen businesses that contribute to providing energy solutions and 14 others will be engaged in technology-related businesses.
“Seven beneficiaries have chosen start-ups in social enterprise while the rest will be engaged in whole and retail, agricultural, manufacturing and telecommunication businesses.
“We will also support the beneficiaries through a period of mentorship and help them access funding opportunities from financial institutions to nurture their businesses,” he said.
Weli, who spoke through Mrs Gloria Udoh, SPDC’s Manager, Social Performance and Investment, said that aside training and funding, the programme also assisted youths to draw up their business plan and ideas.
He said that out of 6,350 Niger Delta youths who had benefitted from the programme since its inception, 3,213 had received start-up tools and grants to establish their businesses.
Weli added that no fewer than 70 per cent of the beneficiaries are successful business owners across different industries.
“Similarly, thousands of people over the years had been employed by trainees who graduated from the LiveWIRE programme,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Emeka Unachukwu, the President of Develop You, an entrepreneurship mentoring organisation, urged beneficiaries to engage organisations to mentor and guard them in their businesses.
He said that mentorship was very important in the development of start-ups, especially considering current economic realities in the country.
“Beneficiaries must learn from others who had gone into similar businesses to avoid failure.
“Most start-up businesses collapsed not for lack of access to funds but because they did not engage the services of mentors in their businesses.
“There are lots of tricks associated with every business and mentoring organisations expose these tricks to enable trainees grow their businesses successfully.”
Unachukwu advised the beneficiaries to set business target and seek equity investors to finance their businesses to grow, especially businesses high capital intensive businesses.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives of the governments of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers commended the LiveWIRE programme and expressed their willingness to partner SPDC to develop youths in the region.