BusinessDay

SMEs obtain N60m seed capital from IBPLC to scale up, create jobs

A total of 50 small and medium enterprises have received seed capital worth over N60 million from the International Breweries PLC (IBPLC) to scale up their businesses and create jobs for Nigeria’s youthful population.

The SMEs are found across different sectors of the economy including manufacturing, agriculture, modular retailing, technology, circular packaging, recycling, water stewardship, and renewable energy.

IBPLC also invested over N40 million into giving intensive business training and mentorship to 330 young entrepreneurs under its Kickstart Initiative, an idea of the International Breweries Foundation, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of IBPLC.

Speaking at a cheque presentation event held recently in Lagos, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was represented by Babafemi Ojudu, said Nigerian youths can only be engaged through the collaboration of the private sector and the government to empower them for wealth creation and nation-building because there is a limit to the job government and its agencies can provide.

While calling on other corporate bodies in Nigeria to emulate the IBPLC’s Kickstart initiative in order to build entrepreneurial skills in youths, he enjoined the SMEs that benefited from the seed capital and mentorship programme to make the best use of this opportunity.

Hugo Rocha, managing director of International Breweries Plc, said the idea behind Kickstart is to raise entrepreneurs with thriving businesses who will become employers of labour in order to take other people out of the unemployment market.

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He described it as an intervention that contributes to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating poverty and creating decent work and economic growth.

Peter Bamkole, the chairman of the Advisory Board of International Breweries Foundation, said the company has remained committed to the social investment scheme because they believe in the potential of the average Nigerian youth.

“We also believe that the talent, energy, and enterprise embedded in a young population estimated to be around 151 million representing 70 percent of Nigeria’s population according to Worldometer must be harnessed for productivity and nation-building,” he said.

Temitope Oguntokun, the director of Legal and Corporate Affairs of International Breweries Plc, said the Kickstart scheme has impacted 1,608 direct and more than 3,000 indirect beneficiaries.

“With an investment of over N600 million 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,” she said.

Olawale Tunde Fasanya, the director general of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), said IBPLC is teaching people how to fish through the initiative that makes Nigerian youths employers of labour.

“This seventh edition of Kickstart could not have come at a better time. A recent report states that we have 133 million poor Nigerians. This is the time for us to think out of the box on how to address this very serious problem of unemployment in the country,” said Festus Keyamo, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment.

Over 7,000 youths across Nigeria applied for the programme, with about 330 applicants receiving free online training in different entrepreneurship skills through the International Breweries Foundation in partnership with Enterprise Development Centre.