Kickstart Initiative, a brainchild of the International Breweries Foundation, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of International Breweries Plc, awarded a combined sum of 60 million Naira to 50 budding entrepreneurs at the seventh edition of the initiative. This is in addition to 330 young entrepreneurs trained by IBPLC in the same year.
The initiative is aimed at promoting and empowering youths in Nigeria between the ages of 18 to 35 years to embrace entrepreneurship through intensive business training, mentorship, and the award of grants to kickstart their business ideas. The Kickstart initiative cut across different sectors of the economy including manufacturing, agriculture, modular retailing, technology, circular packaging (recycling), water stewardship, and renewable energy.
This year’s event witnessed the convergence of individuals, captains of industry, top government officials and agencies as well as many Nigerian youths.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo who was represented by Senator Babafemi Ojudu at the event noted the critical nature and immense value of the Kickstart Initiative to Nigeria. “This is a very important and creative initiative; it is of immense value to this country and humanity. I encourage those who benefit from it because it is through entrepreneurial activities like Kickstart that Nigeria can become great. There is a limit to the job government and its agencies can provide. Our youths can only be engaged through the collaboration of the private sector and the government to empower them for wealth creation and nation-building,” he said.
The Vice President added that “Nigeria can do with more Kickstart initiatives. I, therefore, enjoin you all to make the best use of this opportunity. I want to call on all other corporate bodies in Nigeria that have not yet started an initiative like Kickstart to emulate International Breweries Plc. You can see how passionate the company is about the initiative. This is demonstrated by the consistency of organising this scheme over the last seven years.”
Managing Director, International Breweries Plc, Hugo Rocha who expressed excitement at the success of the initiative over the years welcomed the guests to the seventh edition. According to him, “The idea behind Kickstart is to raise entrepreneurs with thriving businesses who will become employers of labour themselves, thereby acting as agents for taking other people out of the unemployment market in the country. The success stories we have recorded over the years inspire us to do more. Kickstart is an intervention that contributes to Goal 1 (no Poverty) and Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) of UNSDGs.”
The Chairman of the Advisory Board, International Breweries Foundation, Peter Bamkole while highlighting the impact of Kickstart over the years reiterated the foundation’s commitment to youth empowerment in Nigeria. In his words, “We have remained committed to the social investment scheme because we believe in the potential of the average Nigerian youth – our future! We also believe that the talent, energy, and enterprise embedded in a predominantly young population estimated to be around 151 million representing 70% of Nigeria’s population according to Worldometer must be harnessed for productivity and nation-building.”
50 successful graduates who will add to the list of empowered businessmen and women who have graduated from the Kickstart Initiative were presented with their cheques amid the excitement and congratulatory messages.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, who also graced the occasion noted that “This seventh edition of Kickstart could not have come at a better time because I am sure you saw the report released just a few days ago that we have 133 million poor Nigerians. This is the time for us to put on our thinking cap and begin to think out of the box on how to address this very serious problem of unemployment in the country.”
Over 7,000 youths across Nigeria applied to the programme, with about 330 applicants receiving free online training in different entrepreneurship skills through the International Breweries Foundation’s partnership with Enterprise Development Centre. The bootcamp featured a total of 70 trainees. After the online training, the applicants had a keenly contested pitch for grants that culminated in their final selection.
Mrs Bamidele Abiodun, wife of the Ogun State Governor thanked the organisers of Kickstart. In her remarks, she said, “By 2050 it is estimated that the population of Africa is expected to double, and the proportion of people of working age is projected to increase sharply leading to a “youth bulge” challenge. Not everyone will have the opportunity or resources to japa from Nigeria, and government cannot do everything. Thank you to Kickstart and all the experts who gave their time and resources in building up our youth.”
Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, International Breweries Plc, Temitope Oguntokun reiterated the importance of the initiative to the organisation. “So far, our Kickstart scheme has positively impacted 1,608 direct and more than 3,000 indirect beneficiaries. With an investment of over 600 million Naira in seven years and the creation of 571 jobs, our foundation has been empowering youths with intensive business training, and access to capital through grants and mentorship that ensures our awardees are supported to run sustainable businesses.”
“Kickstart initiative is keying into the aspiration of our youths because we are convinced that they are the pathway to an economically stable and prosperous Nigeria. Indeed, this program has become a known platform for realizing the entrepreneurship dreams of many young people and this makes us proud. The success of the program coupled with the growing influence and increased market penetration of International Breweries laid the foundation for Kickstart to be extended into a pan-Nigeria scheme. This year, we had applicants from the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory while the 50 awardees were in the six-geographical zones of the country,” she said.
The International Breweries Foundation partnered with SMEDAN and EDC to facilitate some of the crucial and technical parts of the Kickstart initiative such as the training and bootcamp.
The Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Olawale Tunde Fasanya, said “IBPLC is doing more than teaching people how to fish, IBPLC is teaching people what to do with the fish and this is highly commendable. When I got the invitation for this event, I initially delegated one of the Directors in the agency to attend but by the time I went through the objectives of Kickstart and the testimonials I said no, I have to be here in person, and that is why I am here today. I must commend IBPLC for coming up with this initiative and for having touched many youths. IBPLC is assisting the government and we must congratulate and thank you for what you are doing we hope that you continue in this stride.”
The Keynote Speaker and Chief Executive Officer of Reel Fruit, Affiong Williams, shared some of her decade-old experience with the successful Kickstart entrepreneurs. “It was opportunities like this provided by Kickstart that motivated me to build my business, and today, we have our products in over 800 stores and I am launching my new factory in Ogun State next year, the largest of its kind in Abeokuta,” she said.