The GHC1bn YouStart timely and laudable
The government has announced it has put together a framework to provide direct support for young entrepreneurs to enable them create new businesses and expand existing ones.
The programme known as YouthStart, will direct financial and technical support toward young entrepreneurs in the country to develop commercially viable businesses and create jobs for the youth.
Ken Ofori–Atta, the Minister of Finance in his presentation of the 2022 budget statement and economic policy to parliament, last week, noted that, the intervention will help address the challenges young entrepreneurs currently face in the country.
“The awareness of the youth employment challenge, as well as extensive consultations with stakeholders including youth associations and educational institutions across the country, have led to the development of the YouStart initiative which proposes to use GH¢1 billion to create 1 million jobs and in partnership with the Finance Institutions and Development Partners”.
In addition to the government effort, local Banks have also agreed to a package that will result in increasing their SME portfolio up to about GHC 5 billion over the next 3 years.
YouStart is a vehicle for supporting young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, training, technical skills and mentoring to enable them launch and operate their own businesses. The Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), and partner financial institutions, will serve as the implementing arms of YouStart.
The initiative when successfully implemented, young entrepreneurs will be able to apply for support through a dedicated YouStart online portal. NEIP will also engage our Faith-Based Organisations as partners for the delivery of essential artisanal skills.
It is believed that, the YouStart initiative is designed to instill proper commercial orientation in the beneficiaries. This will include financial institutions determining the credit metrics and GEA and NEIP providing training support especially for the standardized SME loans noting that the initiative will be operational by March 2022.
Apparently, the government in the past has created numerous initiatives to address the spate of youth unemployment in the country. Programmes such as the Ghana CARES ‘Obaatanpa’ and programmes pursued by the NBSSI now GEA and NEIP are designed to make access to finance and skills in entrepreneurship, agriculture, small-scale industry, tourism, and trade, easier for the youth. Yet, the desired results were not met.
But, as optimistic as we are, we hope that, this new initiative together with other government interventions as captured in the 2022 budget, the youth who are toiling to establish their personal business will have abundant opportunities to nurture and grow their businesses.