An electronic portal to receive applications from potential beneficiaries of a GH₵1 billion entrepreneurship fund under the YouStart Ghana Jobs and Skills programme has been launched in Accra.
YouStart is an initiative by government to support young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, training and technical skills that will enable them start, build and grow their own businesses.
Piloted as part of efforts to address the high unemployment rate in the country, it is aimed at building entrepreneurs and create at least one million jobs for the youth within the next three years.
Launching the portal yesterday, Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr John Kumah said, the government, through the YouStart programme, intends to build an entrepreneurial nation by providing some of the key enablers that make entrepreneurship a success.
The enablers, he said include access to finance and markets, mentorship, strategic partnership and digital linkages, technical assistance and business advisory support service.
The programme, he said was targeted at young people and students between the ages of 18 – 35 who have brilliant business ideas and viable businesses to be supported to nurture, grow and expand their businesses and job creation in the economy.
He stated that the successful applicants would be provided with financial support that would cover working capital requirements, business expansion and acquisition of equipment.”
Additionally, Dr Kumah noted that, successful applicants would also be provided with comprehensive technical support through training in financial literacy, entrepreneurship and business management to support the creation of sustainable businesses across the country.
He indicated that, there would be many phases of the programme as some 46 persons have already benefitted from the pilot phase of the programme.
He added that about” 50,000 persons would undergo entrepreneurial training and those that were committed to the programme will be given the opportunity to apply for grant and funding.”
Chief Executive Office of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), Kofi Ofosu Nkansa indicated that the programme had been fully received considering the huge number of persons that have shown interest and ready to build their entrepreneurial career.
He expressed excitement about the alternative modes of employment being created by the government, describing it as the way to go and it would serve the graduates from the universities that do not get employment well.
He urged the young people to take advantage of the programme and create businesses for themselves and also contribute towards the country’s development.
Given the high rate of youth unemployment in the country, he noted that the YouStart programme was designed to create more jobs for the economy and to support the expansion and growth of Ghanaian businesses within the next three years.
In January this year, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who launched the initiative, said YouStart was the most comprehensive initiative to provide an effective solution to the country’s youth unemployment challenge.
“It will support young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, training, technical skills and mentoring to enable them to launch and operate their own businesses as well as employ others,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The support that will be offered as part of the programme includes; skills training and development, entrepreneurial support, business advisory services, competitive credit and starter packs as well as mentoring and access to markets.
President Akufo-Addo said successful applicants of the YouStart programme will be eligible for starter packs including soft loans ranging from GH₵10,000 to GH₵50,000 as well as standard loan packages of between GH₵100,000 and GH₵400,000 at concessional rates.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS