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In Strathclyde, Scotland, youth unemployment was high at the start of the 1980s, as it is today.

To help local communities share the benefits of the North Sea oil boom, we launched the Shell LiveWIRE programme in 1982.

It invites business proposals from people usually aged 18-30 and advises them on how to develop their own business.

Shell LiveWIRE quickly spread and now offers support and advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in 15 countries.

Its workshops provide advice about business opportunities, owning and managing a business.

Every year national and in some countries regional competitions reward the best young entrepreneurs. The publicity is a further boost to business.

A good catch

Stewart Graham, for example, set up a business producing lobster pots for fishermen in 1983.

A year later he won the first ever Scottish Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

“The overwhelming benefit was the publicity, which lasted for many years,” he said. Media coverage helped Stewart promote his business and increase sales.

Today Gael Force Marine sells a wide range of marine equipment and employs around 120 staff.  Its annual turnover is around £20 million.

Abia Imo, whose TV production company provides media services to Shell in the Niger Delta, used his LiveWIRE award to buy digital video editing technology. “The award from Shell LiveWIRE transformed my business,” he said.

In each country, Shell runs the programme with local partners. Some provide a link between young business people and experienced mentors.

In the Netherlands, for example, Rasida Peerkhan founded Sjheera-Solutions, which specialises in the use of digital pen technology for industrial maintenance, design and engineering.

LiveWIRE gave Rasida the chance to discuss her proposal with a maintenance manager at a Shell refinery in the Netherlands.

“He gave me the confidence to go after contracts with big firms,” said Rasida.

Some countries create online networks for young entrepreneurs to share advice. “It’s great to get the support you need,” said Nick Proctor, CEO of UK firm Amber Energy, a 2011 Shell LiveWIRE finalist.

Around 9 million people have attended its workshops and activities in 30 years.

Local flavour

In North Africa and the Middle-East, Shell’s local LiveWIRE programme, Intilaaqah, offers similar opportunities.

In Egypt, Intilaaqah supported Shaymaa Fayed’s plans to develop a handbag business.

It allowed her to visit Turkish bag makers, exchanging ideas about designs and materials. “Intilaaqah helped motivate me to embark on a life in business,” said Shaymaa.

Her firm, Shamura, reuses leftover materials from local textile factories for bags and other handmade products. She employs 12 people and her clients include mobile phone company Vodafone and travel firm Abercrombie & Kent.

Tameer and CARE International in Pakistan

In Pakistan Shell LiveWIRE, known locally as Tameer, has helped entrepreneurs to launch around 1,000 new start-ups providing more than 22,000 jobs since 2003.

Together with non-governmental organisation CARE International, Tameer is training around 1,000 women in rural communities to become entrepreneurs. Some of them, such as Ms. Waziran and Ms. Pathani, are now selling small, durable solar panel lamps, which provide electricity to communities without access to the national power grid.

“Selling these lamps is a great way for me to build another source of income on top of my handicrafts business,” says Ms. Pathani, who explains how the lamps add hours to the day: “My entire community can be more productive: shops can stay open longer, artisans like me can work more on their handicrafts. We see a brighter future ahead.”

This project allows the women entrepreneurs to boosting their earnings by up to 25% each month.