Government has completed the piloting of its flagship YouStart programme and says it is ready to roll it out in April 2022.
According to Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, the youth entrepreneurship programme when rolled out will be a vehicle for supporting young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, training, technical skills, and mentoring to enable them to launch and operate their own businesses.
Addressing attendees at a business pitch event as part of the pilot phase of the programme on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, he said the programme is expected to remove the primary impediment to the growth of enterprise in Ghana, improve access to credit and incorporate the broader vision of the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda under the Ghana CARES “Obaatan Pa” programme.
“I believe that addressing youth unemployment through a coordinated approach and at the same time devoting resources to build on Ghana’s human capital would ultimately support and sustain our vision of transforming “Ghana Beyond Aid. As a country, we will take our destiny into our own hands and determine our economic fortunes without leaving anyone behind when this vision manifest.”
“So today, government is acting with a plan that gives our people confidence to pursue their ambitions. Our strategy is a simple one, back hardworking people, create local businesses and support existing ones. Government’s policy direction to pursue our vision, is to create an enterprise-driven economy. In this regard, government will continue to strengthen the links between education and job market stakeholders and provide access to finance, skills, and markets for our young entrepreneurs, so that the private sector is well resourced to create jobs for our teeming youth,” he added.
The programme will be implemented by the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), and partner financial institutions at the cost of GHS 10 billion for the next three years.
This, Ofori-Atta said will help government accelerate job creation and ultimately create additional one million jobs for Ghanaians in the next three years.
Specifically, YouStart will support youth-led enterprises with soft loans of up to GH¢50,000 to help start-ups (in particular by young graduates and school leavers) and small businesses to expand; starter packs (soft loans tied to equipment acquisition) of up to GH¢50,000 for individuals and GH¢100,000 for associations and groups; and a standardized loan package of between GH¢100,000 to GH¢400,000 at concessional rates for SMEs from financial institutions.
It will also provide skills development, entrepreneurial support, and business advisory service to young businesses, provide access to competitive credit and starter packs and create access to markets for businesses including portals to facilitate “digital linkages” between youth-led enterprises and other businesses and relevant government agencies.
Present at the event were the Deputy Minister for Finance, Dr. John Ampontuah Kumah and other government officials from the Ministry of Finance as well as representatives from GEA and NEIP.