Govt To Support Youth Dev. With Ghc10m

President-John-Mahama1PRESIDENT John Mahama yesterday evening launched the much-anticipated Youth Enterprise Support (YES) initiative for which GHC10 million seed money has been set aside to provide financial and expert advisory support for prospective young entrepreneurs.

Dedicated to tapping into the creativity and innovativeness of young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 years, the initiative is a fulfillment of President Mahama’s 2012 campaign promise to support young Ghanaians to develop their innovative business ideas into viable and profitable business entities that will create employment opportunities to absorb other youth.

YES is a multi-sectoral initiative operating under the Office of the President and drawing collaborative support from key agencies including the National Board for Small Scale Industries, National Youth Authority, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Ministry of Finance.

Launching the initiative at the State Banquet Hall, President Mahama said business clinics would be organized in the 10 regional capitals to create awareness about the call for proposals/ideas and to provide some orientation to prospective entrepreneurs about the initiative.

A panel of experts would be tasked to review proposals from prospective entrepreneurs through different stages of a selection process, and based on the viability of a proposal, it would be approved for financial support and mentorship.

On how much financial assistance YES could provide, he said financial estimates accompanying selected proposals would guide how much financial assistance YES would provide in support of a business plan.

However, no single business plan would receive more than GHC 50,000.00. Additionally, a business plan/idea should be able to provide at least five job opportunities for other people.

Repayment of assistance obtained from YES comes in the form of taxation (paying the appropriate tax to government) and employment creation by the business entities assisted.

Any business that receives financial assistance from YES that seeks immediate tax relief would, however, be expected to repay the financial assistance with interest on terms agreed with YES.

He said the YES initiative would help to build the confidence of beneficiaries and equip them with the requisite know-how to manage their businesses including training in time and stress management, debt recovery techniques, marketing and recruitment techniques.

President Mahama pointed out that selection would be based purely on merit and not on ethnic, religious or political considerations.

President Mahama pledged to follow attentively, the implementation of the initiative, which he described as “a life and a game changer for the youth of Ghana.”

Recounting the business successes chalked up by some young Ghanaian entrepreneurs who initially came from humble beginnings, the President said embedded in the initiative was a challenge to young people to dare to dream, and to turn the dream into a life-changing opportunity not only for themselves but for other Ghanaians.

He indicated that the GHC 10 million capital was just the seed money for the initiative, pledging to leverage additional funds from other financing schemes to enable many more young entrepreneurs to benefit.

For more information on the YES initiative, President Mahama directed interested youth to visit the website www.yes.gov.gh.

Earlier in the day during the commemoration of this year’s International Youth Day,President Mahama, announced the government’s intention to rebrand the Labour Office into National Employment Centres to be spread across the 10 regions.

He said the proposed centres would maintain a database of young people with set skills to make it easier for employers to search online for the appropriate human resource required.

As an incentive package, employers who recruit from the data base, would enjoy tax breaks from the government, Mr. Mahama said.

“I have outlined my vision to the incoming Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, and I have asked him to give it urgent attention,” the President said.

President Mahama expressed satisfaction about the progress made in respect of the National Youth Employment Policy Implementation plan and hinted that the plan would be launched on the occasion of the African Youth Day.

The President intimated that he was awaiting, with keen interest, the report on consultations among the Ministries of Employment, Labour Relations and Education on one hand and industry/business and academia on the other, concerning the conference to brainstorm on the skills set and curricula preferred by the world of business.

He announced that a new bill to reposition the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) would be laid before Parliament when it reconvenes later this year.

The President observed that the perception that giving more formal education to young people would help them get employed was no longer the case, noting that businesses were no longer interested in recruiting and training fresh graduates.

That was why the government was up scaling investment in skills training under COTVET, Skills Development Fund and many other such schemes.

“Our youth can remain assured that government will continue in its efforts to rebrand technical and vocational education and give it the important attention and support it deserves in the development of our nation,” said President Mahama.

He reiterated the government’s commitment towards the community day Senior High School project, indicating that an initial 50 was being built while provision had also been made for an additional 23 schools, bringing the total to 73, thanks to a World Bank facility.

Despite the huge investments, he said government still needs to do more as many children still do not have access to secondary education.

President Mahama said even though the government had been successful in achieving the Millennium Development Goals on universal primary education, there still remains pockets where school enrolment had been low.

To address the situation, he said the government introduced the Complementary Basic Education programme which had facilitated teaching and learning for 25,000 out-of-school children.

By Samuel Nuamah

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