Govt rolls out YouStart April …expected to create 1m jobs in 3 years – Ofori-Atta

The government will from next month roll out a youth entrepreneurship programme; YouStart after a successful pilot exercise in Kumasi and Accra. 

It is expected 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.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, said the country’s unemployment rate was inching closer to unacceptable levels, occasioned in part by the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, government needed to institute measures to address this unemployment concern.

Speaking at a business pitch event as part of the pilot phase of the programme in Accra yesterday, MrOfori-Atta said the programme was expected to remove the primary impediment to the growth of enterprise in Ghana, improve access to credit by young Ghanaian entrepreneurs who were in need of support to start or expand their businesses.

“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.

“The 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 Minister explained that the YouStart was a comprehensive initiative that would provide an effective solution to the country’s youth unemployment challenge and create about one million jobs for the teeming youth of the country in the next three years.

The programme will be implemented by the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) with funding of up to GH¢10 billion by government. It is meant to support startups with founders under 35 years old, university and high school leavers with unique and innovative ideas and youth Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

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 standardised loan package of between GH¢100,000 to GH¢400,000 at concessional rates for SMEs from financial institutions.

Present at the event were the two Deputy Ministers of Finance, DrAmpontuahKumah and AbenaOseiAsare and other key government officials from the Ministry of Finance as well as representatives from GEA and NEIP.

Available data from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) indicate that 11.5 million people are considered economically active. Of this number, 1.5 million people are unemployed estimating the unemployment rate among the population 15 years and older at 13.4 percent. 

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