Shell pumps up ailing SA economy

LiveWIRE targets unemployment and scourge of poverty

Global energy and petrochemicals group Shell on Friday launched its enterprise development programme, Shell LiveWIRE, with the announcement of the new cohort of entrepreneurs as the company seeks to make a dent in youth unemployment.

The company has teamed up with business incubator Raizcorp to roll out the programme. It offers entrepreneurial learning, individual business guidance, access to infrastructure, access to specialists and back-office support . Ntobeko Mogadime, social investment adviser for Shell, said the initiative aims to address youth unemployment and poverty.

“Through a hand-up, rather than a hand-out approach, Shell LiveWIRE aids in making small businesses sustainable, scalable and more commercially viable to become strong contenders not only in Shell’s supply chain but to become potential suppliers for other corporates too,” Mogadime said.

Shell’s LiveWIRE programme first began in 1982 in Scotland but has since expanded to 17 countries around the world.

The success of small and medium enterprises has been touted as being critical to the recovery of the ailing South African economy and arresting the ballooning unemployment rate. The country’s official unemployment rate stands at 29% but expands to a staggering 38% when including those who have given up looking for a job.

The latest unemployment data from Statistics SA indicates that youth unemployment reached 56.4% in the second quarter of this year.
Youth unemployment has averaged 52.3% in the past seven years with the second quarter data at an all-time high against a record low of 48.8% reached in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Lindiwe Ngwenya, manager at Raizcorp’s branch in Sandton, said: “As Shell’s preferred enterprise development partner, we look forward to embarking on this journey with all these talented entrepreneurs and having a meaningful impact on South Africa’s small business sector.”
Nine youths who run businesses were chosen across the country to form part of the programme.

The requirements to form part of the initiative include being between 18 and 35, having a business with a monthly turnover of at least R10 000 and being at least 51% black-owned. One of the Shell LiveWIRE qualifying candidates, Kgaogela Seloane of Serethi Consulting, said: “I’m really excited to be here for both entrepreneurial and personal development. The programme will give me ongoing support, access to markets and the opportunity to think about business differently.”

By Kabelo Khumalo

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