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Shell invests in Sabah's entrepreneurs
Published on: Wednesday, December 21, 2022
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Shell invests in Sabah's entrepreneurs
Kota Kinabalu: Shell Malaysia's mission is, and always has been, to provide relevant initiatives that help locals in meaningful ways, which include fostering local talent and encouraging local businesses.

In 2015, when the the Sabah Government called out for more local entrepreneurs, Shell Malaysia decided  to bring its Shell LiveWIRE programme to Sabah.

Shell LiveWIRE is the company's flagship enterprise development programme, which strengthens local economies across the globe by promoting entrepreneurship and developing entrepreneurs.

Since its debut in Sabah in 2015, Shell LiveWIRE has been one of the State's most important programmes. Participants travelled from as far away as Kunak, Kota Belud, and Kudat to participate in the first Shell LiveWIRE programme held in Sabah.

(L to R): Shell LiveWire 2022 Sabah winners: Saila Saidie, co-founder of LJD Corporation, Zee Shazila and Ivy Jessica, co-founders of Give 1 For Two Sdn Bhd, Michelle De La Harpe and Henry Lim, co-founders of Reka Chef Sdn Bhd, Mr. Prithipal Singh, General Manager, Sabah Deepwater, Sabah Shell Petroleum Company, Cindy Lopez, Director of Corporate Relations, Shell Malaysia, Vianney Evana Vide co-founder of Sukod Borneo Enterprise, Cherry Chew Li Ding, co-founder of Hong Xin Food Sdn Bhd.

Till date, Shell Malaysia has spent over RM4 million on the programme, provided start-up funds totalling almost RM400,000, and educated and mentored over 300 aspiring entrepreneurs in Sabah, many of whom have gone on to establish thriving enterprises of their own.

“At Shell, we strive to bring an impactful programme that benefits the local communities by enhancing their community skills and enterprise development. These talents are given the opportunity to shine while Shell connects them to a conducive entrepreneurial environment, locally and globally,” said Prithipal Singh, Sabah Shell Petroleum Company Limited General Manager.

Investing in this programme in Sabah is important to Shell because this effort, not only develops businesses, but it also empowers communities and uplifts their livelihoods through job opportunities.

The programme helps the people of Sabah since it opens up business opportunities for young people.

"We aim to enhance the local economy through entrepreneurship, innovation, and meaningful employment. Every year we support many individuals through the access of knowledge, skills, networks and resources to turn their ideas into successful businesses," Prithipal said.

Additionally, participants are also exposed to entrepreneurial ecosystem from the local and global business network. They are connected through the global networking and sharing, while standing a chance to compete in the Global Top Ten Innovators – a platform that celebrate the excellence in entrepreneurship among the Shell LiveWIRE fraternity from 20 countries around the world.

Prithipal said that Shell's goal is to implement a meaningful programme that will provide aspiring business owners with pre-start-up business awareness, planning and management training, business funding, as well as mentorship, which can propel them to further develop their businesses and contribute towards the socio-economic development of the nation.

“Many Shell LiveWIRE business owners have been introduced to Shell retailers and business owners, thanks to the supply chain opportunities we have within our Shell retail network.”

According to Prithipal, over the past four months, 99 contracts have been signed by LiveWIRE business owners thanks to a programme called BERTAMU @Shell, an engagement platform that brings together Shell’s retailers and LiveWIRE entrepreneurs.

Recently, five Sabah businesses have been recognised as champions of the Shell LiveWIRE 2022 Sabah finals, marking the eighth year that Shell has run this growth opportunity for Sabahan business owners.

The five, namely Sukod Borneo Enterprise, Reka Chef Sdn Bhd, LJD Corporation, Give 1 For Two Sdn Bhd and Hong Xin Food Sdn Bhd were among some 60 participants who participated in this year’s programme.

After a rigorous boot camp, only ten participants advanced to the pitching competition.

The entrepreneurs' business proposals were evaluated based on their commitment to developing their ventures in accordance with their detailed business plans.

The winners of this year's competition won a RM10,000 seed grant and one year of business coaching support from Shell LiveWIRE facilitators in order to help them realise their entrepreneurial dreams.

In addition to competing in the annual Shell Global Top Ten Innovators Awards, the entrepreneurs will also have the chance to engage with the global LiveWIRE ecosystem and share their expertise with entrepreneurs from all around the world.

The judges for Shell LiveWIRE Sabah 2022 were Datuk James Sardahthisa, Chief Editor of Daily Express; Puan Fridah Ramli, Sabah Land and Surveys Department Senior Administration Officer and Shell Malaysia District Manager for Mobility, Sabah and Sarawak, Yakub Tuarang.

SHELL LIVEWIRE 2022 SABAH WINNERS

Hope in every stitch

Zee Shazila from Give 1 For Two Sdn Bhd, an artisan clothing line made by underprivileged women

We are committed to delivering ethical fashion from the designing process to the impact experience because in every stitch made, there is hope.

The idea of helping underprivileged women was born during the pandemic. While staying at home, we started to make fabric facemasks and put them on Facebook. Months later, we expanded and had a few new products such as matching facemasks with headbands, matching tudung and matching headbands for mothers and daughters. Demand was growing and we started looking for tailors. After advertising for vacancies on Facebook, we were surprised to find that 100% of the responses were from housewives and that was when we realised the opportunity that we have opened up to them.

The beautiful Kebaya by Give 1 For Two Sdn Bhd

In August 2020, we hired a full-time housewife as our tailor, and by the end of Dec 2020, we had three housewives working with us. In January 2022, we established Give 1 For Two Sdn Bhd and moved from our home into an office space. We now have 11 Housewives from Menggatal, Inanam and Likas, who are with us as our tailors and 1 Crafter from Matunggong, Kudat.

Empathy inspired us to pursue this business. We want to change the poverty mindset in the impoverished community so they can change the next generation’s standard of living. We believe that poverty is not to be inherited.

Shell LiveWIRE has helped me think outside of the box. I realised I was limited in ideas because I viewed the business through my eyes only when I should have been looking at it through the eyes of the beneficiaries, the customers as well as the rest of the market.

As a start-up, our main challenge is visibility and brand positioning. Branding is a critical part of today’s business world. We are still learning to stay present to our audience and gain their trust.

Marketing is also part of the challenges that we face. We are working on go-to-market strategies to attract potential customers.

We will soon open sewing classes for women and youth who are interested to further their careers as tailors or who would like to sharpen their sewing skills. This is something that our followers are waiting for as we received a lot of inquiries for up-skilling and re-skilling classes but we weren’t able to organise them before because we did not have enough sewing machines for classes. With the winning prize money we received from Shell LiveWIRE, we are now able to purchase more sewing machines and can start classes soon.

Rice of the ancestors

Vianney Evana Vide, from Sukod Borneo Enterprise

Sukod Borneo is a platform that helps farmers by teaching them proper planting and harvesting techniques so that they can improve the quality and quantity of their heirloom rice. Our beneficiaries are paddy farmers from the B40 group who are having financial problems.

I have been inspired by my own farming community. I founded the business because I noticed a lack of knowledge about rice cultivation among the farmers. This is their main source of income, yet they were not aware of ways to increase this income with the implementation of new harvesting techniques.

Team Sukod Borneo at Tambunan rice field

Shell LiveWIRE programme has helped me with the development of my business through the insights I gained from mentors and other fellow entrepreneurs. I also managed to gain a firm understanding of the fundamentals of running a business and what I can do to get to the next business stage.

Starting a business like this is not easy and there are many challenges that I needed to overcome.

One of my main challenges during the start-up phase was when I need to bring all the farmers together to work on their techniques. But after a while, they started understanding what we wanted to achieve here and how it would benefit them, and they became very cooperative.

Although Sukod Borneo is fairly new, we have already set our future plans. We aim to build a mini factory so that the production of the village rice can be improved and become an added value in our business as well as increase job opportunities within the Tambunan district. I am grateful to Shell for giving me this opportunity to upscale my business.

Photo accessories

Saila Saidie from LJD Corporation

LJD started in 2016. We make photo accessories using high-quality materials. We work with the community, especially single mothers, those within the B40 income bracket and inmates in making photo accessories, which in return helps them earn an income. Most of the communities we work with are B40 and single mums.

The people and my community inspired me to pursue this business. They keep me going. I want to help them and empower them by increasing their quality of life through a new source of income.

Saila Saidie at her booth

Through Shell LiveWIRE, I have learnt ways to grow my business and how to create more impact and better help the communities in Sabah.

The biggest challenge I faced was when nobody believed in my business and doubted if it can be successful or even gain customers. This was heart-breaking at first but I knew there was potential. I strongly believed in the impact that could come out of this and I pushed on.

I want to help more communities in rural areas and use the prize money that I got from Shell LiveWIRE to buy tools and raw materials for them.

App for foodies

Michelle de la Harpe from Reka Chef Sdn Bhd

We are a food social media app, the first in Malaysia. It is an app where you can post, like pictures and posts as well as share about food, follow your favourite chefs, learn from them and purchase their dishes on the spot.

I designed this app in July 2021 and came together with my co-founder, Henry to develop it. We released the BETA version of the app on October 18, 2022.

Reka Chef team explaining their product to Prithipal Singh, General Manager, Sabah Deepwater, Sabah Shell Petroleum Company

I was running a tourism business which was forced to hibernate due to Covid. I then turned to sell food from home as I learned that I could start all over (a new business) using just my skills and passion. I started Roma’s Kitchen and focused on one dish only which was a favourite amongst friends and family. From there, my husband came on board and we added more Italian dishes. Our orders increased to a point where we could not cope.

In the beginning, I was also delivering the food myself and later on used delivery partners. We could not sell on existing food delivery platforms as we simply could not meet the large and fast inventory that was the key requirement. We conducted a survey nationwide and did research using data collected from all walks of life. We knew we had to help all those who were trying to make a living by selling food from home. We knew we had to create a platform where we could reach a bigger market to help those selling and automate the manual processes involved to generate a bigger output thus creating more income. All this while protecting our home-based sellers’ income.

Winning this competition at this level has given me a confidence boost and created more opportunities to further expand the business. We have been approached by several government ministries and agencies as well as those in the private sector for collaborations. It was also a great awareness platform as many friends got to know about our business and have since onboarded the app in support.

One of the main challenges was ensuring that our app was the right solution. We received so much feedback even since conceptualisation. Everyone had a different opinion and some doubted us in the beginning. But we kept on. I persevered and went back to the drawing board. I always sought advice from my coaches and redesigned it when I had to.

We will continue to grow the app in both functions and users. We have a lot planned out for this app in which we know we would be able to touch lives in various ways. We want to launch officially in March in both KK and KL, then grow in Penang and other states across Malaysia.

We are already in talks with possible strategic partners and investors to launch in neighbouring countries which is extremely exciting as we didn’t think we would reach this level so fast. We will also work very hard with the coaches over the next 3 months to compete at the national level of Shell LiveWIRE and I truly hope to make Sabah proud as the first app to reach that level.

Tempeh crackers

Cherry Ding Chew Li from Hong Xin Food Sdn Bhd

We manufacture and distribute vegan tempeh chips under the Tem Tem brand. Our tagline is Mom-approved snack, that you can take anywhere.

We started our business during the pandemic in December 2021. We started manufacturing from home and have since started distributing all over Malaysia and even to overseas markets.

Products from the Tem Tem brand

Many people in my community suffered from loss of income due to the pandemic. By starting this business, more job opportunities are being created to benefit those who are in need.

The Shell LiveWIRE programme has helped me tremendously in pinpointing the market positioning of our brand, Tem Tem.

The knowledge of tempeh fermentation is normally passed down from one generation to another in Java, Indonesia. Back then, we only had internet resources to research the tempeh-making process and we failed many times before nailing down the right formula. Perseverance kept our goals in sight all the time.

We plan to continue building our brand values and work with more strategic partners. We also hope to receive our MeSTI and Halal certification by early next year.

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