FIRST+ programme to generate work opportunities for 60,000 youth

FIRST+ programme to generate work opportunities for 60,000 youth
Gottfried Odamtten-Sowah, Mastercard Foundation's Program Lead, Agro-Processing & Agribusiness

CapPlus, Mastercard Foundation, and a consortium of partners strengthen financial institutions in Ghana to enable them to lend to MSMEs to create work opportunities for Ghanaians, especially young women and men.

CapitalPlus Exchange (CapPlus) and the Mastercard Foundation have announced the launch of an industry-wide collaboration with the Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Microfinance Institution Network (GHAMFIN).

The initiative aims to strengthen financial institutions to enable them to increase lending to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and create work opportunities for 60,000 young Ghanaian women and men.

Dubbed Financial Institution Resilience and Strengthening (FIRST+), the programme will build the capacity of players within the financial sector, including savings and loans companies, rural and small business-focused banks, microfinance, and related institutions by addressing underlying challenges that inhibit their lending to MSMEs.

The programme forms part of the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy that aims to enable three million young people in Ghana to access dignified and fulfilling work opportunities.

In line with the Bank of Ghana’s efforts to strengthen the financial sector, financial institutions participating in the FIRST+ programme will receive technical assistance to: expand their lending to small businesses; increase their attractiveness to investors, including linkages to potential sources of capital; and advance their digitisation to improve outreach, risk management, and efficiency.

Participating financial institution staff will also benefit from expanded training and skills building provided by GHAMFIN, including Ghana’s Central Bank accredited training for directors and managers of non-bank financial institutions, to enable them to respond better to the needs of MSMEs while boosting their corporate governance structures.

In addition to providing technical assistance to financial sector operators, FIRST+ has already attracted several impact investors, such as Oikocredit, a Dutch social investor, seeking to provide $20 million to financial sector partners that are committed to scaling finance to benefit youth and women in the agricultural value chain and other impact sectors.

“The power of combining patient capital with technical assistance has always been our preferred approach, and we are delighted to combine forces with the Mastercard Foundation, GHAMFIN, and Oikocredit to contribute to a more resilient financial sector that provides greater opportunities for Ghana’s youth and women,” said Lynn Pikholz, CapPlus’ CEO.

“We are excited to bring Oikocredit’s full suite of capital facilities to financial sector partners in the FIRST+ programme. This partnership enables us to support Ghanaian youth and women while building assets and strengthening women-led businesses. With this program, we are advancing our social impact mission to support Ghana’s agricultural sector, strengthening financial institutions’ operations to provide better digital services and tailored financial products, and increasing access to capital,” said Hans Perk, Oikocredit’s Regional Africa Director.

“Accelerating the growth of youth and women-led MSMEs through access to finance and capacity building will stimulate the sector and unlock work opportunities for young Ghanaian women and men especially in the agricultural value chain, fostering economic recovery and prosperity for all,” said Rosy Fynn, Ghana Country Head at the Mastercard Foundation.

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