Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has justified the government's GHc 10 billion 'YouStart' initiative aimed at providing financial support for the youth of Ghana.
The Minister, presenting the 2022 budget at Parliament, introduced the 'YouStart' to address youth employment challenges.
"Mr. Speaker, 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 GH¢1 billion each year to catalyze an ecosystem to create 1 million jobs and in partnership with the Finance Institutions and Development Partners, raise another 2 Billion Cedis. In addition, our local Banks have agreed to a package that will result in increasing their SME portfolio up to GHC 5 billion over the next 3 years. This, Mr. Speaker results in an unprecedented historic 10 Bn Cedis commitment to the private sector and YouStart over the next 3 years," he told the House.
He underscored the relevance of the 'YouStart', asserting it is ''a vehicle for supporting young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, training, technical skills and mentoring to enable them launch and operate their own businesses''.
On how this initiative will be implemented, the Minister revealed; ''YouStart will support youth-led enterprises with the following products:
i. District Level Loans under 10 000 GHC after 2-3 months of training.
ii. 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;
iii. Starter packs (Soft loans tied to equipment acquisition) of up to GH¢50,000 for individuals and GH¢100,000 for associations/groups;
iv. A standardised loan package of between GH¢100,000 to GH¢400,000 at concessional rates for SMEs through financial institutions."
Ken Ofori-Atta, having a one-on-one interview with Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM's morning show 'Kokrokoo' on Tuesday, was asked how the government intends to fund the initiative and if the 'YouStart' will be feasible.
In his response, he noted that the government is fully committed to implementing the initiative, therefore is currently in negotiation with a private financial institution and various banks for financial assistance.
He assured Ghanaians and the doubting Thomases that, just as the government has made free SHS a reality, the 'YouStart' programme will surely come into fruition and become an avenue to empower the youth entrepreneurship.
"This is the same thing that was said, the negative language, that we can't do the (free) SHS. Where will we find the money? But these are choices of a passionate President who believes that every citizen should have his due and be able to use his God-given talent, so we should find the money to do this," he said.
He commended the Akufo-Addo government touting the 'YouStart' initiative is unprecendented and will provide reliefs to the youth.
"The 10 billion intervention has never been seen in this country and it is bold. It is visionary and liberates us of this albatross.''
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