By Ikeugonna Eleke
Hero’s Foundation, a foundation under International Breweries PLC, makers of Hero brand of beer, has said that Nigerian companies, through faithful implementation of their corporate social responsibilities, can help the country beat unemployment among youths.
Mr Muyiwa Ayojimi, company secretary and lawyer of International Breweries, stated this recently during a press conference to herald the commencement of the third phase of its programme, Hero Kickstart.
Ayojimi said if every business entity set aside a percentage of its profit and plough it back to helping society as its corporate social responsibility, the problem of unemployment could be overcome.
He said, ‘Kickstart is our own way of giving back to society. What we do is we set aside a percentage of profit made from every case of Hero Beer sold and use it to sponsor business proposals from youths who have business ideas, but lack the capital to start up.
‘This is the third year of the Hero Kickstart Programme. It started in 2016. So far, we have empowered 64 entrepreneurs with N132million. This year’s programme has just started, and we look forward to receiving 4,000 to 5,000 applications.
‘I want to urge young people who have business ideas to submit their proposals through our website where our team of experts will look at them and determine the winning entries.’
Michael Daramola, director, legal and corporate affairs of the company, while making a presentation, said the foundation had a team of experts who looked at the entries and determined the winning ones.
‘The amount we award to the winners varies. When we look at the proposals, sometimes we scale up the amount for a proposal when we think the proposal is good, but the applicant has less knowledge of what the start-up may entail.
‘We also scale some down when applicants state bogus amounts, and we still think that the proposal is good.’
He clarified that the monies awarded to the winners ranged from N1m to as much as N5million, and that the monies were totally free and devoid of interests or refunds. He however said that winners were monitored to ensure good usage of the funds.
‘We send those whose applications sail through to Unizik Business School, where they are taken through a week’s intensive study on the risks associated with being CEOs, and also afford them the opportunity of having mentors, before the emergence of the lucky ones,’ Daramola said.
Highpoints of the conference were testimonies from past winners, who recounted their journey in the business world and their eventual breakthroughs.