- With KickStart initiative, foundation fights poverty, joblessness in the South-East
- Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe speaking at the event
By Rita Ejesieme
ACROSS the states and local governments, youth unemployment has for many years remained a major scourge ravaging the country. In the villages, towns and urban areas, what you see daily are images of jobless young men and women, loafing about the streets, most with neither purpose nor direction.
But for youths in the South Eastern part of the country, a foundation is lending a helping hand, providing a lifeline for them to actualise their dreams.
SABMiller Hero’s Foundation is working to bring some succour to young and brilliant minds on how to get employed, generate employment and create wealth for themselves through its KickStart programme. The foundation was established by Intafact Beverages Limited, a subsidiary of SABMiller, one of the world’s largest brewing companies.
The programme was recently launched in Onitsha, a major commercial hub in Anambra State. At the event were prominent Nigerians, including the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, who is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the SABMiller Hero’s Foundation. Other members of the board at the event are Professor Chinyere Stella Okunna, Head, Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, and Director, UNIZIK 94.1 FM Community Radio; Mr. Chike Onyejekwe, an international expert in Geologist; Otunba Michael Daramola, Country Corporate Affairs and Strategy Director, SABMiller Nigeria; Ms. Yolanda Chirwa, Human Resources Director for SABMiller Africa (Nigeria) and Mr. Lukas Daniel Van Deventer, Director and General Manager, Intafact Beverages Ltd, Onitsha.
KickStart is a corporate social investment (CSI) initiative that is aimed at instilling a culture of entrepreneurship among youth in the South East. The programme offers the youth an opportunity to develop big ideas into sustainable businesses or expand their existing businesses through the provision of material and financial support.
Some of the opportunities the programme offers, it was gathered, include business development skill training; business mentoring and coaching and provision of grant for business start-up or business expansion.
Although the programme is relatively new in Nigeria, KickStart has for years been implemented in some parts of Africa. Launched by SABMiller in South Africa in 1995, the poverty alleviation initiative has since been implemented in Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Tanzania. It was first launched in Nigeria in August last year by the International Breweries Plc., Ilesha, Osun State.
With the major objective of creating, developing and promoting an entrepreneurship culture among young people through the provision of material support and the promotion of business culture, KickStart is open only to Nigerians aged between 18 and 35 who live or have businesses within the five South Eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.
The promoters of the programme run by the SABMiller Hero’s Foundation insist that the ultimate goal of the programme is to help build a young prosperous society by helping to create a culture of entrepreneurship among the youths, thereby reducing youth unemployment in the South East.
At the launch in Onitsha, chairman of the foundation, Igwe Achebe affirmed that the KickStart programme was one major initiative that would turn around the lives of youths in the area and improve the economic prosperity of the South-East.
He said the SABMiller Hero’s Foundation KickStart Programme was part of Intafact Beverage’s social corporate investment initiative (CSI) and its commitment towards poverty alleviation and sustainable enterprise development in its areas of operation. Said the royal father: “The programme is designed to assist young people build enduring entrepreneurial business skills. Specifically, the programme is aimed at creating and developing a culture of business entrepreneurship among our young people, by promoting business skills, managerial awareness and material support through training, mentorship and provision of grants as start-up capital or expansion seed funds.
“The end objective of this programme is to ensure that our youth in the South East with bright business ideas have an opportunity to turn these ideas into reality, which will in turn reduce unemployment, by engaging them meaningfully through an entrepreneurship programme that will encourage them to bring their dreams to life.”
The traditional ruler noted that the KickStart initiative was also a way of helping to diversify the nation’s economy that had depended on crude oil for decades.
He added: “In an economy weakened by the effects of a global slump in oil prices, the SABMiller Hero’s Foundation KickStart not only comes as a breath of fresh air, it indeed offers strong prospects for an economic rebound for our country which is in dire need of multiple investment platforms.
“Statistics have shown that about 25 million Nigerian youths are currently unemployed. Economic experts have declared that one of the quickest and ways of ensuring sustainable development and economic growth is through micro, small and medium scale enterprises. Therefore, in an economy like ours, it is simply prudent that we encourage local entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship, especially at a time like this.
“There is renewed hope that this initiative will not only grow the local economy of the South East region, it will indeed, generate a paradigm shift in wealth creation as it targets the empowerment of the youths of the region. I can assure you that the multiplier effects of such a strategy will be quite impressive and far-reaching.”
In his address, Otunba Michael Daramola, Trustee of SABMiller Hero’s Foundation and Country Corporate Affairs and Strategy Director, SABMiller Nigeria, explained that the foundation was well aware of the dire consequences of the current youth unemployment in the country, especially in the South East, SABMiller’s major operational base.
“Against this backdrop, SABMiller recognises that encouraging enterprise development and job creation in the communities in which it operates is important to the company’s long-term sustainability. KickStart is one of a number of programmes designed to fulfil these goals. By creating successful entrepreneur role models, KickStart also aims to encourage a culture of market-driven entrepreneurship,” he submitted.
So how does the KickStart initiative work? It was learnt that youths intending to participate would apply by downloading a form on www.herosfoundation.org. They would then be required to write a business plan proposal on their existing business, detailing how they intend to expand it and state the financial challenges. A panel of judges would then review the applications and select the successful ones. Those selected will be given training across all critical areas of making a business successful, just as they will be provided with mentorship and funding. The foundation, Daily Sun learnt, will follow up with each of the successful applicants to ensure that the business is well run in line with the training already received by the applicants. It was also learnt that about N25 million has been set aside for the financial grants, even though the amount to be received by each applicant might vary, according to each applicant’s proposal.
Otunba Daramola explained further: “The competition is aimed at young persons between 18 and 35 from the communities in which the sponsoring SABMiller Company operates. Applicants must be prepared to run and manage their business on a full time basis. Such businesses must be legally permissible businesses in terms of local laws, and could be either new businesses requiring start-up capital or existing small businesses needing capital to expand their operations.
“The top KickStart applicants will participate in a short intensive business skills training workshop during which they are given assistance to develop business plans. Candidates with the best business plans will then receive grant funding for their businesses during which comprehensive business development support is offered to assist entrepreneurs in developing and growing their businesses. In all of these, the judges’ decision on determining winners is final.
“A thorough assessment of each business proposal is followed by a tailored growth strategy and individual mentorship programme for the entrepreneur for 12 months. The growth strategy also determines the amount of grant funding a business receives from KickStart. Thereafter, KickStart facilitates business development opportunities.”
Describing the Kickstart initiative as a win-win for everyone, Otunba Daramola noted that from a development perspective, KickStart helps create and support successful businesses in local communities, creating and sustaining jobs and providing role models to inspire others. And from a business perspective, KickStart enables SABMiller to deliver on its sustainable development objectives by helping to nurture more prosperous and healthy communities, he asserted.
“In pursuing these objectives through KickStart, SABMiller contributes its corporate social investment resources to provide grant financing, training and mentoring for entrepreneurs, its expertise in managing and delivering a multi-layered, enterprise support programme and access to its value chain and networks. So it is a win-win situation for all,” he averred.
The Anambra State Government has also endorsed the programme. Anambra State Commissioner for Youth Entrepreneurship and Sports Development Mr. Tony Nnachetta commended the Intafact Beverages Limited for establishing the SABMiller Hero’s Foundation Kickstart Programme. He affirmed that the state government was ready to partner with Intafact Beverages in realising the objectives of the initiative.