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Desafío Joven, the Shell LiveWIRE programme in Argentina, has held its special annual awards gala in Buenos Aires to showcase the outstanding entrepreneurial talent that the programme has helped to nurture during 2013.

Over 200 young people aged between 20 and 28 years received one to one sessions with an experienced business adviser, along with enterprise forums run by business experts, in order to transform their enterprising idea into a viable business. This resulted in the development of business plans for 63 new businesses, of which the ten most outstanding were presented to the Desafío Joven awards judging panel.

The main award of AR$25,000  (US$3,100) went to Diego Armand Molina for his furniture design and manufacturing company, ‘Lamino’. María Elena Cruz received the AR$20,000 (US$2,500) runner up prize for her recycled stationery business, ‘Darte’, with third place, and AR$15,000 (US$1,800), awarded to Karin Klausch for her lingerie business.

Shell Argentina’s Country Chairman, Juan José Aranguren, presented the awards at the ceremony, which was also attended by Pablo Taussig, President of the Christian Association of Business Executives (ACDE), the programme’s principal partner, along with other business leaders, government agencies and academics. Speaking at the awards, the Shell Chairman highlighted the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit in contributing to local economic and social development.

Verónica Staniscia, Social Investment Head for Shell Argentina and Desafío Joven Programme Manager said, “After a long year of hard work, it is highly rewarding to see how these projects, that started off as basic ideas, have developed into viable business plans for an exciting wave of new start ups.”

Verónica also noted that the average age of the participants was only 25 years old. This clearly shows that the programme´s goal of bringing business tools to youngsters, who wish to turn their ideas into sustainable and profitable businesses, is being met.

The event closed with a cocktail party, which marked the completion of the first planning stage of the participants’ entrepreneurial journey and heralded their efforts to put all their new knowledge into practice and launch their products to the open market.

Desafío Joven (“Youth Challenge” in Spanish) is a free learning programme delivered by Shell Argentina in partnership with the Christian Association of Business Executives (ACDE), which aims to encourage youth entrepreneurship, guiding participants in the process of transforming an idea into a commercially viable and sustainable business plan. The programme is targeted at young people aged between 20 and 28 years old, who wish to start their own businesses, and thereby contributing to national development.

Desafío Joven provides participants with an opportunity to be mentored by prominent volunteer business counsellors (executives, professionals, entrepreneurs, alumni) who share expertise, provide support, and help to translate an idea into a profitable business.

During the programme, each participant evaluates not only the feasibility of the project but also their own qualities and talents. Many young people have ideas that could become small businesses, but ignore the requirements and skills that, as entrepreneurs, they must develop.

The entrepreneurs also benefit from enterprise training, business planning and evaluation tools, and also numerous business networking opportunities.

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