Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has lauded International Breweries Foundation, the social investment vehicle of International Breweries Plc, for awarding grants of over N73 million to 90 deserving young entrepreneurs through its Kickstart initiative.
The landmark award ceremony took place on Thursday, 28 November 2019, at the Edmark Centre in Lagos.
The vice president, who was represented by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, said the Kickstart initiative is a very commendable one that can be replicated by other private sector players to augment government’s empowerment programmes to help reduce unemployment and empower Nigerians economically.
According to the vice president, government can take key learnings from the way Kickstart is structured, which ensures integrity of the programme.
Delivering his address at the event, Professor Osinbajo said, “The very thorough process by which Kickstart selects its heroes, beneficiaries, the training, the bootcamp, and mentorship are all very commendable and it is something we as government can learn from when we open it up to genuine beneficiaries”
Kickstart was conceptualised to empower young Nigerians, 18-35 years, and help reduce unemployment while promoting decent work and economic growth in line with Goal 8 of the UNSDGs.
It is an innovative youth entrepreneurship programme that empowers young people with finance, capacity building and mentorship to enable them implement diverse entrepreneurial ventures in Agriculture, Recycling, Climate Actions, Education, ICT, Crafts and Manufacturing among others.
In his speech, Chairman of the Advisory Board of International Breweries Foundation, Mr Peter Bamkole, said, “Indeed, we envision the initiative as the nursery of innovation in business, where we plant, nurture and transfer by way of training, granting and mentoring. We are optimistic that every successful beneficiary will pull others out of unemployment because every job they create will take about three other people out of the job market.”
Bamkole said the 2019 Kickstart, which was pan-Nigeria, has revealed the hunger for a national programme as applications were received from all 36 states and the FCT. He added that the acceptance “has reinforced our belief in the potential of Kickstart to impact and influence the youth population in the country.”
In his presentation, entitled Harnessing the Potential of the Youth for National Development through Innovation, Employability and Social Investment, Professor Kingsley Moghalu, while commending International Breweries for such an impactful initiative as Kickstart, noted that indeed the nation must begin to invest in its youth in the areas of education, skills acquisition, vocational training, as well as encouraging science and technology if the country must achieve sustainable growth and development.
Moghalu further recommended that “we can replicate the Kickstart programme on a very large basis, we can work with the private sector in doing that”.
The beneficiaries were effusive in their praise of the Kickstart initiative. They particularly commended the integrity of the programme in picking candidates based on merit, the impactful training in the bootcamp, the one-year mentorship, and most importantly the grant. According to a beneficiary Aishatu Adekoya, who is into snail farming, “My Kickstart journey has been amazing and interesting.
The training was intense and the coaches were amazing. I want to assure that I will use this grant to grow my business. I say a big thank you to Kickstart and thank you to International Breweries Foundation.”
According to IB Plc, Kickstart started with the application phase in June 2019 and progressed to the bootcamp phase where 227 entrepreneurs were trained on the key aspects of business management. A total of 167 made it to the Pitch Fest, the penultimate phase of the project wherein the entrepreneurs defended their business plans to an independent panel of judges.
The final 90 awardees had their businesses awarded the grants because they met the set criteria, including: business maturity, experience of the applicant to run the business, financial statement of the business and overall business concept.
The event witnessed the launch of the Kickstart alumni group, a platform where beneficiaries from the 2016 set can exchange ideas and information on business trends and developments as well as cross sell among themselves.
Kickstart 2019 edition is the fourth in the series and brings the total number of direct beneficiaries to 708; 1,416 indirect beneficiaries’ while the total amount of grants so far awarded to beneficiaries since 2016 is N325,136m.
The company revealed that while the total grants given out during the awards is N73, 836,000, in reality, it is spending over N150, 000,000 if it includes the cost of training, mentoring and the Trophy Academy which it plans to build in its Gateway brewery.
This will be a training school for skills acquisition for young Nigerians in the different fields of entrepreneurship. IBPLC also said the kickstart initiative has generated 571 jobs while total jobs generated are expected to increase to 1,392 by 2021.