50,000 youth begin training under YouStart today
Kosi Yankey — CEO, Gea

50,000 youth begin training under YouStart today

About 50,000 youth selected across the country will officially start training today under the Ghana Jobs and Skills of the YouStart initiative.

The three-month training is expected to equip the participants with relevant skills, access to market, technology and financial support to enable them to start and grow their businesses.

The beneficiaries were selected out of the over 288,000 applicants who applied through the portal meant to receive applications from potential beneficiaries of the YouStart initiative.

It seeks to target 50 per cent women, persons with disability and unemployed youth as well as existing small businesses owned by school dropouts between the ages of 18 and 40.

The project is being implemented by the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) with financing and technical support to the tune of GH¢400 million from the World Bank.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GEA, Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, who made this known in an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, said the financing and technical support, which had already been secured, was made possible through the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for the implementation of the project.

“The World Bank is investing close to GH¢400 million solely for the Ghana Jobs and Skills project made up of components for technical assistance and access to funding,” she said.

YouStart Initiative

YouStart initiative was announced by the government in the 2022 budget, with the objective of building an entrepreneurial nation and creating at least one million jobs for the youth in three years — from 2022 to 2025.

It was meant to ease constraints for existing and aspiring young entrepreneurs under the Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (Ghana CARES) programme, which is part of efforts to address the high youth unemployment rate in the country.

Through the programme, the government and its partners intend to commit about GH¢10 billion, over three years, towards the creation of at least a million jobs.

It is being implemented by the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) and the National Entrepreneurship Innovation Programme (NEIP), with support from the World Bank.

It is a vehicle through which the government intends to provide funds and technical support for the youth between 18 and 40 years and youth-led businesses to assist them to start, build and grow their businesses.

It is being rolled out in three phases, comprising a district model where beneficiaries will be selected through special help desks in the 216 districts across the country; a commercial model, with banks on board, and the faith model, which will work with faith-based organisations to identify qualified candidates.

Financing support

Mrs Yankey-Ayeh said the project had the objective of providing entrepreneurship training and competitive start-up grants to youth who had the potential to start a business.

She explained that the project was considered as one of the main forms of support for the government’s top priority agenda of upgrading skills among the country’s population, creating more and better-quality jobs, and improving job outcomes for the youth.

Also, the  project, she said,  would connect success in these areas to ensure stability, social cohesion, and economic inclusion.

“We are starting the training across all the regional capitals with about 50,000 youth and will be implemented in three stages: basic, intermediate and advanced,” she said.

Job creation

Mrs Yankey-Ayeh explained that to help support job creation in the country, the GEA was tasked to implement the Ghana Jobs and Skills project.

“So, the GH¢400 million is to help build the youth to be able to start their own businesses and provide them with some form of technical assistance and access to funding to accelerate their growth.

“And this mandate is linked to the YouStart initiative which also seeks to target unemployed youth, especially the vulnerable, women, and rural entrepreneurs,” she added.

 Strong commitment

The GEA CEO noted that the participants that would advance through the next stage were those that could show willingness and strong commitment to start their own businesses.

“Within the period of three months, we will know those among the participants who are serious and committed to starting their own business to be provided with funding,” she said.

She said the training would also provide participants with the know-how and the guidance to be able to run sustainable businesses.
She added that 50 per cent of the trainees would receive funding to support their businesses.

Successful pilot

Under the YouStart initiative, the government intends to create a minimum of one million jobs for the youth over the period 2022-2025, through the provision of soft loans for the setting-up of youth-led enterprises.

The project was successfully piloted with 70 beneficiaries and an amount of GH¢1.98 million disbursed to support youth-led (below the age of 40  SMEs with training and capacity building, access to markets, technology, procurement opportunities, business development support services, compliance and quality assurance support and finance.

The beneficiary sectors included poultry, agro processing, information communication technology (ICT), textiles, and food processing, among others.

The government facilitated the design of an online loan management system to receive applications from the targeted groups and harmonise the operations of the various implementing agencies such as the GEA and National Entrepreneurship & Innovation Programme (NEIP), participating financial institutions (PFIs), and partners under the programme.

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