By Vincent Ujumadu
Awka- Sixty-four Nigerian youths from eight states in the catchment areas of a Nigerian conglomerate, the International Breweries Plc, have collectively received N132 million from the company’s Hero’s Foundation Kickstart Programme launched three years ago. The benefitting states were Abia, Anambra, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu and Imo.
At the launch of the third edition of the programme at the Onitsha plant of the brewery, the Company Secretary and General Counsel, Mr. Muyiwa Ayojimi said that Rivers State has been included in the programme which, he explained, was a corporate social investment initiative aimed at empowering and inspiring budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
Ayojimi said: “We launched the programme in 2016 to touch lives and inspire young people especially in the face of economic challenges in the country.
“Despite the fact that our economy is slowly pulling out of a recession, the International Breweries Hero’s Foundation has been able to keep to its promise of making this programme an annual event.
“We initially kicked off the programme with youths residing in the core South-Eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo, in 2017, we expanded our horizon to include Benue, Delta and Edo states. I am proud to announce that this year, we will be expanding further to include Rivers State to the list of participating states.”
According to him, applications for the 2018 edition of the Hero’s Foundation Kickstart programme were open to youths between 18 and 35 years residing and doing business in the participating states, adding that successful applicants would undergo a one-week intensive business training session with experts from the Nnamdi Azikiwe Business School after which they would be required to develop and submit their business proposals.
He explained further that a team of judges would sift through the proposals based on their strength and sustainability, after which the final winners would be announced and given start-up/expansion fund at an award ceremony that would take place later in the year.
Corporate Affairs manager of the company, Mr. Chuma Umunna said that average of 4,000 applications were received each year, out of which about 50 youths were selected.
He also said that a mechanism was being put in place to monitor the use of the grant given to the beneficiaries, advising the recipients to make proper use of the money because the idea was to make them successful entrepreneurs and employers of labour.