A Deputy Minister of Finance Dr John Kumah has said that the YouStart programme was to deliberately grow start-ups and make them contribute to the Government’s agenda of creating three million jobs but depend largely on the support of banks.
He said this during a signing ceremony with 13 Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) to support the implementation of the commercial part of the GH¢10 billion YouStart entrepreneurship programme.
Dr John Kumah said the partnership was critical in the Government’s quest to build future entrepreneurs and make Ghana an entrepreneurial State.
He, therefore, urged the PFIs to sustain their support to the programme and ensure its extension to entrepreneurs with businesses in rural areas to help create jobs and uplift many living in those areas from poverty.
The funds would be used to meet the working capital requirement of businesses, support their expansion needs and purchase of equipment or machinery to enhance productivity and create more well-paid jobs, especially for the youth.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, signed for the Government, with Managing Directors of the 13 PFIs signing for their respective banks.
Mr John Awuah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), signed for the coordinating institution of the PFIs, which is GAB.
In his speech at the programme, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, said the signing of the agreement showed the commitment on the part of the Government and the private sector to strengthen links between education and job market stakeholders.
He explained that the partnership would provide access to finance, skills, and markets for young Ghanaian entrepreneurs and increase the ability of the private sector to create decent and sustainable jobs.
“Fundamentally, we had to adopt this approach because the pandemic taught us, we must re-orient our approach towards structural transformation and react with a clear plan to reap the benefits of our population dividend by building an Entrepreneurial State,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
He noted that the three components of the YouStart programme (Commercial, module, District Entrepreneurship and YouStart Grace Modules) were to ensure that “no one is left behind in building Ghana as an entrepreneurial nation.
The CEO of GAB, told the Ghana News Agency that the banks saw the support as a responsibility to help grow businesses with financial and other needed support to build the economy.
“Part of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught as that we need to have a homegrown economy, one that is owned and managed by Ghanaians. This signing is an attestation that the public and private sector can work together to create value and the entrepreneurial nation we’ve all been yearning for,” Mr Awuah said.
He noted that the Banks had worked with the Finance Ministry to design the YouStart programme to help propel businesses forward, particularly younger and smaller businesses.
“It is a positive development. We only must ensure that what we’ve put on paper, when it gets to execution, we all come to the table in a way the agreement has been signed,” Mr Awuah encouraged.
Providing a brief on the programme, Mr Andy Ameckson, Acting Coordinator, YouStart, said under the commercial part, Banks would provide loans to beneficiary businesses at interest rates lower than the market rate.
“There will not be any collateral for businesses to access loan under the programme, and the recovery is also dependent on them [beneficiaries],” Mr Ameckson pointed out.
The pilot phase of the YouStart programme was implemented in February 2022, involving 85 young entrepreneurs, and currently awaiting the availability of the President for the launch and full-scale implementation of all three modules.
The Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) and National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) are the implementing agencies of the programme, whose goal is to create a Wealthy, Inclusive, Sustainable, Empowered and Resilient (WISER) society.
They would be supported by the National Youth Authority, Ghana Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Service and Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) in its roll-out.