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 Government dignitaries, heads of agencies, and captains of industries were in attendance at the sixth edition of the youth enterprise empowerment scheme, Kickstart Initiative Awards Ceremony which held in Lagos recently.

The corporate social investment scheme initiated by the International Breweries Foundation, the CSR arm of International Breweries Plc, a proud part of the world’s largest brewers – AB InBev gave out grants totalling 60 million naira cash to 50 young entrepreneurs across Nigeria as well as training, mentoring and ancillary costs worth another 40 million naira to other teeming youths.

Kickstart Initiative empowers young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 and has been activated in the South-Western and South-Eastern parts of Nigeria since 2015 before evolving into a full-scale national programme in 2019.

With agriculture, circular packaging (recycling), water stewardship, renewable energy, retailing and others as this year’s focus areas, individual winners received grants ranging from 400,000 naira to 3 million naira, and for the first time, the people living with disabilities category was introduced to the list of awardees.

In his welcome address, Managing Director, International Breweries Plc, Hugo Rocha said, “For us, the Kickstart initiative 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”. Continuing, Rocha said, “in the past six years, our Foundation has awarded close to 400 million Naira (N400m) in grants to about 800 beneficiaries and trained close to 1,200 youths on entrepreneurship skills.”

Advisory Board Chairman, International Breweries Foundation, Mr. Peter Bamkole charged awardees to make good use of the training they received, work with their mentors, and judiciously channel the grant provided to grow their businesses.

According to Bamkole, “Kickstart Initiative is committed to empowering youths within the age bracket of 18 to 35 years to be productive, independent and, more importantly, successful employers of labour. To ensure this happens, we do not leave them to wander off on their own after the programme because we recognise the vital role of mentorship in business. We assign mentors to guide them on their entrepreneurship journey and help them navigate the pitfalls in business.”

An elated Olatunbosun Abiodun, a circular packaging entrepreneur who received the grand award of three million naira (N3M) said, “I will use the grant and training to improve my business, hire more staff and contribute to achieving a cleaner environment. I cannot appreciate the Kickstart initiative and International Breweries Plc enough for this gesture.”

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