The government on Monday launched the YouStart District Entrepreneurship Programme and opened the YouStart Ghana Jobs and Skills application portal to receive applications from potential beneficiaries of a GH₵1 billion entrepreneurship fund.
The government through the YouStart programme intends to build an entrepreneurial nation by providing some of the key enablers that make entrepreneurship a success. These include access to finance and markets, mentorship, strategic partnership and digital linkages, technical assistance and business advisory support service.
in a speech read on his behalf at the launch, Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, said the YouStart District Entrepreneurship Programme, a dedicated service offering aimed at easing constraints for existing and aspiring young entrepreneurs across the 216 districts of the Country to create one million jobs for the youth in three years.
He said through the District Entrepreneurship module of YouStart, Government would offer comprehensive technical support through training on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and business management to support the creation of sustainable businesses across the Communities.
Additionally, some beneficiaries who are committed to the programme will be provided with financial support to cover working capital requirements, business expansion and acquisition of equipment or machinery of some selected programme beneficiaries who go through the programme successfully.
He said the use of an open and transparent application portal would also ensure that the benefits of the YouStart were available to all Young People.
“In the end, a young person located either in the centre of Accra or the remotest part of the North must rest assured that through the YouStart, they will not be left behind,” he said.
He called on the Ghana Enterprises Agency, the NEIP and all other implementing agencies to ensure that all applicants have an equal chance of success under the YouStart.
“There will be many phases with this YouStart intervention. In the middle of this year, we implemented the pilot phase and were successful in supporting 46 individual beneficiaries and 8 groups/associations with membership between 6 and 45 persons across the country.
“In this first real phase of the intervention, under the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project, funded by the World Bank, over 50,000 beneficiaries will benefit from entrepreneurship training and those who are committed and intentional will have the opportunity to apply for grant funding to support their business,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
On her part, Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei, Deputy Minister/MSMEs, Internal Trade, & Trade Facilitation, said the intervention was a critical intervention to address and respond to the nation’s youth unemployment demands.
The launch of the YouStart project also underscores the importance of working together to pursue policies and programmes that will drive competitiveness and prosperity for all, she said.
She encouraged the Ghanaian youth to apply and participate in the project, especially those who want to start their own businesses.
“I am certain and optimistic that successful beneficiaries will be well-equipped with both entrepreneurial skills and funding to start their own businesses,” she said.
Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, the Chief Executive Officer, of Ghana Enterprises Agency, said the YouStart project was part of the Government’s interventions to tackle the youth unemployment situation in Ghana with the World Bank providing financing and technical support to the Government for the implementation of the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project which has the objective of supporting skills development and job creation.
The GEA under its component would be providing entrepreneurship training to 50, 000 youth who have the potential to start a business, as well as support 5,000 of them with start-up grants.
Youth from the ages of 18 – 40 years with minimum education of BECE, willingness to start a business as well as school dropouts already in business are eligible to apply.
Mrs Yankey-Ayeh said the portal would be opened for a period of six weeks after which eligible applicants would be invited for a readiness screening and needs assessment.
She said the entrepreneurship training would be in three modules: Basic level for a total of five days, Intermediate level for a total of 10 days and Advanced level for a total of 15 days.
Applicants at the Advanced level would be eligible for Coaching and Mentoring support to assist them to finalize business plans, conducting market research, formalization support and testing their products on the market.