13 banks promise YouStart programme GH¢5bn

A total of 13 universal banks in the country and the Ghana Association of Banks (GAB) have offered to provide a total of GH¢5 billion to support the implementation of the   YouStart programme.

The Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, who disclosed this during the signing of agreements with the Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) of the YouStart programme in Accra on Tuesday,  said the government would provide GH¢3 billion while development partners provide GH¢2 billion to support the implementation of the GH¢10 billion programme meant to support the youth to create their own businesses.

While the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, signed on behalf of the government, representatives of the participating banks signed on behalf of their respective organisations.

The partner banks are GCB Bank Plc, Absa Bank Ghana Limited, Access Bank Ghana Plc, Ecobank Ghana Plc, FBNBank Ghana Limited, Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited, and Universal Merchant Bank.

The others are Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited, CalBank Plc, OmniBSIC Bank Ghana Limited, Zenith Bank Ghana Limited, Bank of Africa Ghana Limited, ARB Apex Bank and GAB.

Mr Ofori-Atta said government intended to “anchor the post-COVID-19 recovery on the young people’s renewed hope and dynamism” and ensured that “none of them was left behind on the path toward building an entrepreneurial state.”

“Fundamentally, we had to adopt this approach because the pandemic taught us we must re-orient our approach towards structural transformation and react with a clear plan to “reap the benefits of our population dividend by building an entrepreneurial state,” he said.

He said data from the Ghana Statistical Service suggested that the unemployment rate for those aged 15-35 was 19.7 per cent, adding that “Even for those who are perceived to be working, 50 per cent of them were classified as underemployed.”

 “These statistics underscore the dire need to resolve this spectre of youth unemployment across our communities,” he said, adding that “We must all work together (public and private sectors) to ensure we create a culture and mindset that leaves our young people unafraid to challenge themselves.”

He explained that the YouStart programme had three models, namely the Commercial Programme, District Entrepreneurship Programme, and the YouStart Grace, would be implemented with faith-based organisations.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the implementation of the YouStart was starting with the Commercial Programme, which offered a standardised loan product between GH¢100, 000 and GH¢500, 000.00 from PFIs to cover working capital requirements, business expansion needs and the purchase of equipment or machinery for the beneficiaries.

The Chief Executive Officer of GAB, John Awuah, said the YouStart was “a positive development.”

 “As a nation we all recognise that we need to help build our own. If the impact of COVID-19 has taught us any lesson at all, it is that we need to have a home-grown economy, an economy that is owned and managed by Ghanaians,” he said.

He said the signing of the agreement would pave way for the partner banks to start preparatory works to start disbursing the money.

The YouStart Programme is a vehicle through which Government intends to provide funding and technical support to youth-led businesses who fall within this category to assist them start, build and grow their business.

Introduced in last year’s budget, the programme formed part of the GH¢100 billion Ghana Cares “ObaatanPa” programme to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, return the country to a sustainable path of robust growth and to create a stronger, more resilient and transformed economy.

BY KINGSLEY ASARE

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