The International Breweries Plc, has stated that its Kickstart Initiative is aimed at addressing the high rate of unemployment currently estimated at 33 per cent.
The Managing Director, of International Breweries Plc, Mr. Hugo Rocha, at the seventh edition of its 2022 kickstart awards ceremony in Lagos, tagged “Championing social investment for youth empowerment and economic development”, said so far, the Kickstart scheme has positively impacted 1,608 direct beneficiaries and more than 3,000 indirect beneficiaries.
According to him, the Kickstart Initiative has impacted many lives through entrepreneurship support, therefore contributing to the desired change in the Nigerian SME landscape where he said about 97 per cent of the entrepreneurs surveyed admitted that their participation in the Kickstart bootcamp significantly improved their ability to run any business.
He noted that with an investment of N385 million and the provision of 571 jobs, the International Breweries Foundation has been empowering awardees with intensive business training, a significant amount of grants, and post-training mentorship that ensures that they are not left to figure out the entrepreneurship journey on their own.
“The fact that many young Nigerians have been impacted positively is one of the reasons the initiative gives me personal fulfilment.
“According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s rate of unemployment is at 33 per cent with 42.5 per cent of that segment being youths. Add the World Bank’s 2022 Poverty Assessment Report, which shows that as many as four in ten Nigerians live below the national poverty line, and you will all agree with me that we have a huge challenge on our hands. Government cannot do it all. This requires all hands to be on deck,” he advised.
Rocha added: “What the International Breweries Foundation has done is take the lead by introducing Kickstart as a veritable intervention for this purpose. With business focus areas ranging from agriculture, renewable energy, water stewardship, distributorship, ICT, to many other fields, the depth of talent and innovation on display in the current and previous Kickstart Entrepreneurship cohorts have shown that there is indeed great hope.”
He pointed out that the idea behind Kickstart is not just to empower or enrich an individual, but to raise entrepreneurs with thriving businesses who will become employers themselves, thereby acting as catalysts for taking other people out of unemployment in the country.
Also speaking, the Chairman of, the International Breweries Foundation, Mr. Peter Bamkole, said the level of success the company has recorded over the years courtesy of the initiative remains gratifying, stressing that over 7,000 applications received this year is a testament to the fact.
“We have a dream to create a future with more cheers. As a forward-looking organization, we are part of the empowerment of future leaders that will go to work with one mission: to support in reducing unemployment and to give back to their communities,” he said.
Bamkole said the International Breweries Foundation, is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of International Breweries Plc with the aim of using the Kickstart scheme to empower young entrepreneurs between 18 and 35 years old through business development training, the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills, the award of grants, and mentoring.
He added that the programme is an avenue to bridge the unemployment gap by giving life to the dreams and aspirations of millions of bright and enterprising young people across Nigeria.
On her part, the Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, International Breweries Plc, Temitope Oguntokun, said the global economy, and specifically, the Nigerian economy has been hit badly by the recession that is an aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia/Ukraine war among other factors which has resulted in the astronomical cost of living and loss of jobs.
“From the 6th edition, we diversified the business focus areas to critical economic drivers such as agriculture, modular retailing, circular packaging (recycling), water stewardship, technology, and renewable energy, while offering inclusion to the physically challenged,” she said.
She said the success of the programme coupled with the growing influence and increased market penetration of International Breweries laid the foundation for Kickstart to be expanded into a pan-Nigerian scheme.