Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has hinted at the introduction of a new programme aimed at addressing the unemployment challenge facing the country.

Reading the 2022 budget dubbed the ‘Agyenkwa Budget,’ in Parliament, on Wednesday, the Finance Minister indicated that government will create 1 million jobs through a programme dubbed “YouStart.”

According to him, “YouStart” is a vehicle for providing young entrepreneurs access to capital, training, technical skills, and mentoring to enable them operate their own businesses.

“The understanding of the youth employment challenge, as well as extensive consultations with stakeholders, including youth associations and 24 educational institutions across the country, have led to the development of the ‘YouStart’ initiative which proposes to use GH¢1billion each year to catalyze an ecosystem to create 1 million jobs and in partnership with the Finance Institutions and Development Partners, raises another 2 Billion Cedis,” he said.

“In addition to this, local Banks have agreed to a package that will result in increasing their SME portfolio up to GH₵5billion over the next 3 years. This, Mr. Speaker, results in an unprecedented historic GH₵10billion commitment to the private sector and ‘YouStart’ over the next 3 years,” he added.

This comes at a time when calls for government to create more jobs for the youth has heightened.

He indicated that though initiatives such as NABCO which has provided employment to 100,000 youth, the YEA which has 80,538 beneficiaries, the Afforestation 44,682 youth engaged, and the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP) have all been introduced, unemployment remains a challenge.

Hence, the introduction of this initiative.

About ‘YouStart

The Finance Minister noted that ‘YouStart’ will support youth-led enterprises with “District Level Loans under GHC10, 000 after 2-3 months of training, 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/groups, a standardised loan package of between GH¢100,000 to GH¢400,000 at concessional rates for SMEs through financial institutions.”

Beneficiaries under the initiative will have access to funding, skills development among other benefits.

“YouStart will provide our youth with the following: Skills Development, Entrepreneurial Support, and Business
Advisory services including funding [access to Competitive Credit and Starter Packs; Enterprise Promotion [mentoring and access to markets including portals to facilitate “digital linkages” between youth-led enterprises and other
businesses and relevant Government agencies,” he said.

Giving further details, he indicated that the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), the National Entrepreneurship
and Innovation Programme (NEIP), and partner financial institutions, will serve as the implementing arms of ‘YouStart’.

“Entrepreneurs will be able to apply for support through a dedicated ‘YouStart’ online portal. NEIP will also engage our Faith-Based Organisations as partners for the delivery of essential artisanal skills, business competitions, and
feasibility studies and introduction to financing institutions with a commitment of up to 10% of GOG contribution to the ‘YouStart’ programme,” he indicated.

“Mr. Speaker, the ‘YouStart’ initiative aims to support our youth to develop commercially viable businesses. To this end, YouStart is designed to instill proper commercial orientation in the beneficiaries. This will include financial institutions
determining the credit metrics and GEA and NEIP providing training support, especially for the standardised SME loans. ‘YouStart’ will be operational by March, 2022,” he said.

Source: myjoyonline.com