Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has declared that government will soon start allocating GH¢100million to support young entrepreneurs and businesses through the YouStart Jobs and Skills project.
Dr. Bawumia made this announcement at the grant agreement signing ceremony at YouStart Grant Expo2023 – and asserted that government is actively engaged in the construction of a resilient economy through the creation of an “entrepreneurial youth”.
Over 50,000 start-ups and enterprises have already received formal training and technical support under the project, which was launched two years ago.
He said the disbursement reflects government’s commitment to industrialise the economy by building strong micro-, small- and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and fortifying the nation’s financial foundations for long-term stability and prosperity.
“Let us recognise the significance of today’s grant signing ceremony in shaping the destiny of our nation. Let it reecho in our minds and hearts that investing in strengthening the nation’s youth; their businesses stimulate and lay foundations for economic growth and prosperity for all,” the Vice President stated.
He added: “By empowering the youth, we are contributing to a secure future where no one is left behind and our nation stands as an icon of success on the international stage. Let us continue this journey with renewed vigor, knowing that together it is possible to build a Ghana where economic opportunities are abundant and our youth are empowered to achieve far more than they could ever imagine for a prosperous future”.
Finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta said beneficiaries of the YouStart represent all the country’s different parts – with every region having at least 400 beneficiaries receiving basic entrepreneurship training and at least 50 beneficiaries receiving grant support under the project.
“Truly, the one thing all our beneficiaries have in common is that you embody the spirit of enterprise which is at the heart of Ghana’s economic future,” he stated.
A new beginning
Acknowledging that the last two years have been difficult, Mr. Ofori-Atta stated the last few months have seen a steady flow of positive news regarding the economy – with rebounding growth, a more stable exchange rate, and interest rates softening.
“Taken together, there is certainly a stronger sense of a new beginning and deeper confidence in our long-term economic future. And I have no doubt that the youth and entrepreneurial spirit represented in this room can go on to build an even brighter future for our economy,” he stated.
He said the growth strategy outlined in the 2024 budget – focused on agriculture, industry, tourism and digitalisation – is a multi-faceted strategy intended to harness the nation’s potential, create jobs and foster innovation across sectors.
“Our vision is to see the YouStart programme echo through our communities, creating a legacy of empowerment, innovation and prosperity for generations to come. That is the scale of our ambitions,” he said, explaining that though he recognises government can’t create successful businesses on its own, what it can do is create an environment in which “your business endeavour is supported rather than stifled”.
Highlighting the significance of government’s commitment to the MSME sector, Chief Executive Officer (CEO)-Ghana Enterprises Agency, Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, said so far seven interventions have successfully been implemented or are ongoing; and these include the provision of technical assistance and grants to Ghanaian startups and MSMEs, under both the Ghana Jobs and Skills and Ghana Economic Transformation Projects.
She said over GH¢165million has been disbursed/committed to over 4,300 startups and MSMEs between September 2021 to November 2023 – with over 86 percent of the funding dedicated to youth-focused startup businesses and enterprises.
A survey conducted by KPMG in December 2022 revealed that 3,195 jobs have been sustained and created by 311 firms supported with grants from GEA.
“This is good news, because not only were the businesses able to make a profit and keep their staff, they were also able to expand and add new staff,” she stated.
She urged all grant and technical assistance beneficiaries to focus on their businesses, and aim to move a notch higher from their current firm size to the next level of growth.
“That is, we expect startups to accelerate quickly into micro, and even grow exponentially straight into medium enterprises. If you cannot challenge yourselves that way, at least aim for the next logical level of growth as you scale your production or business operations and move a notch higher to at least a micro firm.
“Similarly, for all micro enterprises here, we want you to show your appreciation for all of government’s support by growing into small firms, small into medium; and medium enterprises should transition into large corporates with improved job creation capacities and incremental sales – and become innovative, competitive while contributing to growth in our economy,” she urged.