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GEA, NEIP to implement YouStart initiative

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Ken
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister

 

THE Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) is to partner with the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) and selected financial institutions to implement the government’s new flagship youth entrepreneurship programme, YouStart initiative.

To that effect, the GEA and NEIP will provide training support especially for the standardised SME loans while the financial institutions determine the credit metrics for the beneficiaries.

YouStart is the vehicle for supporting young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, training, technical skills and mentoring to enable them launch and operate their own businesses.

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Operational date

Presenting the 2022 budget in Parliament, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, stated that the YouStart initiative will be operational by March 2022.

He said interested entrepreneurs would be able to apply for support through a dedicated YouStart online portal.

He said the YouStart initiative which proposes to use GH¢1 billion each year to catalyze an ecosystem to create one million jobs and in partnership with the finance institutions and development partners, raise another GH¢2 billion.

“In addition, our local banks have agreed to a package that will result in increasing their SME portfolio up to GH¢5 billion over the next three years.

“This, Mr Speaker, results in an unprecedented historic GH¢10 billion commitment to the private sector and YouStart over the next three years.

“Mr Speaker, this understanding 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 as a key vehicle to create 1 million jobs in three years under the GhanaCARES programme,” he said.

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Essential artisanal skills

The minister stated that NEIP would also engage faith-based organisations as partners for the delivery of essential artisanal skills.

He said the YouStart dovetails into our overall ambitious private sector growth strategy, anchored on a revitalised financial sector, establishment of Development Bank Ghana, and converting the Ghana Amalgamated Trust (GAT) into a permanent investment vehicle.

The objective is to raise long-term capital to provide equity investments to strengthen financial institutions, and restructure companies in the hospitality, education, and export-oriented industries that were devastated by COVID-19.

Contributions

According to him, in addition to the private sector’s contribution to job creation, the government has over the last five years employed a significant number of young Ghanaians into the public sector particularly in the health, education and security sectors.

He said the government through special programmes such as NEIP, NABCo, National Afforestation Programme and GEA has created significant job opportunities for the youth and MSMEs.

He stated that the government took a bold and decisive decision to support Ghanaian youth through the establishment of NEIP and NABCo.

NABCo was initiated to support 100,000 graduates to acquire relevant workplace skills and experience.

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Permanent jobs

So far over 35,000 NABCo trainees have secured permanent jobs.

“Mr Speaker, in spite of this, youth unemployment persists. This challenge has been further exacerbated by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has negatively affected businesses and narrowed job openings in the private sector significantly.

These are the sobering facts: Youth unemployment is estimated at 12.6 per cent, and in addition 50 per cent of Ghanaian youth are underemployed and public sector job openings are largely capped due to fiscal constraints.

Around 100,000 students graduate from accredited tertiary institutions annually, with more than 50 per cent of them enrolled in courses with limited or no job growth potential.