GEA, NEIP and Banks ready for YouStart take-off in April

GEA, NEIP and Banks ready for YouStart take-off in April

Implementing agencies of the YouStart initiative have indicated that they are ready to fully roll-out government’s flagship Youth Entrepreneurship Programme.

According to the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) and partner financial institutions, they have been working together to develop a good, viable product that will accelerate government’s effort to create one million jobs in the next three years.

They gave the indication in Accra on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, after a successful pilot exercise to test the programme’s overall feasibility and potential impact of the Youstart programme when it is launched.

Beneficiaries of the pilot programme, drawn from the GEA and the NEIP in all the regional zones of the country, received training and funding support to enable them scale-up and expand their businesses.

Speaking at the pitch session for beneficiaries of the pilot programme, Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, said the piloting is expected to create some 230 direct and indirect jobs; and has shown that potentially government’s quest to create 1 million jobs in the next three years is possible.

“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.

“Government’s policy direction to pursue our vision is creating 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,” the minister said.

YouStart is a novel initiative that forms part of government’s bold and audacious Ghana Cares programme, meant to revitalise and transform the Ghanaian COVID-19 era economy. The programme will be rolled out in April this year by the GEA, NEIP and partner financial institutions with a GH¢10billion funding from government.

The programme 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.

Additionally, it will provide skills development, entrepreneurial support and business advisory service to young businesses, provide access to competitive credit and starter packs, and create access to markets for businesses – including portals to facilitate ‘digital linkages’ between youth-led enterprises and other businesses and relevant government agencies.

The pilot pitch event provided a platform for beneficiaries like IoT Network Hub, Packway Ghana Limited, SheaMe and many others drawn from all 5 zones of the country; and from sectors such as agribusiness and technology to pitch their business ideas and demonstrate how government support for their businesses will help create opportunities for youth of the country.

A website will be announced at the programme’s launch in April, to receive applications from potential beneficiaries. Applicants can also walk into any office of the GEA, NEIP and any of the partner financial services to pick up a form to apply.

Also present at the event were the two Deputy Ministers of Finance, Dr. John Ampontuah Kumah and Abena Osei Asare, as well as key government officials from the Ministry of Finance and representatives from GEA and NEIP.

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