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GEA, NEIP to implement YouStart initiative

The Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) will partner financial institutions to implement government’s new flagship youth entrepreneurship programme

Two institutions namely the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) have been tasked to implement YouStart initiative.

They will partner financial institutions to implement government’s new flagship youth entrepreneurship programme,

The two government institutions will provide training support especially for the standardised SME loans while the financial institutions determine the credit metrics for the beneficiaries.

Don’t politicise YouStart

Said Boakye, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), has called for transparency in the disbursement of funds under the new YouStart programme.

YouStart is a vehicle for supporting young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, training, technical skills and mentoring that will allow them to launch and operate their own businesses.

Speaking on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Friday (19 November), Dr Boakye said the government must, however, desist from politicising the initiative.

“First of all, I must say that this initiative is the kind of initiative that I support … This particular one is a laudable one because funds are going to people to embark on productive activities.

Dr Saed Boakye a senior research fellow with the Institute for Fiscal Studies(IFS)
Said Boakye is a senior research fellow with the Institute for Fiscal Studies

“I am calling on the government to make sure that a mechanism will be put in place to collect the monies that have been lent out.

“The monies have to be given to people who can utilise those monies for effective productive activities, so that revenue is generated,” Dr Boakye said.

He added: “But I am afraid these are just words. It is actually party faithful who are going to benefit, and those who will take the funds will behave as if it is government’s money. This has happened before.”

However, Agyapomaa Gyeke-Dako, an economist at the University of Ghana Business School, believes the involvement of commercial banks in the disbursement of the funds will enhance transparency under the initiative.

Background

The government is to roll out the “YouStart” initiative with the aim of creating one million jobs for Ghanaian youth, the Minister for Finance has said.

Delivering the government’s 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy in Parliament on Wednesday (17 November), Ken Ofori-Atta said the initiative will launch with initial funding of GHC1 billion.

“This understanding of the youth employment challenge, as well as extensive consultations with stakeholders including youth associations and educational institutions across the country, have led to the development of the YouStart initiative, which proposes to use GHC1 billion to create one million jobs in partnership with the finance institutions and development partners,” the minister said.

”In addition, our local banks have agreed to a package that will result in increasing their SME portfolio up to about GHC5 billion over the next three years.”

Soft loans

Under the initiative, beneficiaries will receive soft loans of up to GHC50,000 to help start-ups (in particular, businesses started by young graduates and school leavers) and small businesses to expand.

“Starter packs (soft loans tied to equipment acquisition) [will be given] of up to GHC50,000 for individuals and GHC100,000 for associations/groups,” Ofori-Atta said. He also spoke of a “standardised loan package of between GHC100,000 to GHC400,000 at concessional rates for SMEs through financial institutions”.

“The Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), and partner financial institutions, will serve as the implementing arms of YouStart,” the Finance Minister said. “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.”

Fred Dzakpata

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