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Ghana’s government enters a contract with banks to advance the implementation of YouStart.

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13 Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) and the government have signed a contract to help implement the commercial component of the GH10 billion YouStart entrepreneurial initiative.

Through the arrangement, the PFIs would offer firms participating in the scheme loans ranging between GH100,000 and GH500,000 totaling around GH5 billion over the following three years.

The money would be used to purchase equipment or machinery to increase production and generate more high-paying jobs, particularly for young people, as well as to support firms’ requirements for expansion.

The 13 PFIs’ managing directors signed on behalf of their respective banks, while Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, the minister of finance, signed on behalf of the government.

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The PFIs’ coordinating institution, the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), represented by its CEO, Mr. John Awuah, signed the document.

The agreement’s signing, according to Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, demonstrated the resolve of the public and private sectors to enhance ties between players in education and the employment market.

In addition to giving young Ghanaian entrepreneurs access to capital, training, and markets, he stated that the cooperation would also enable the private sector to produce more respectable and long-lasting employment.

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Fundamentally, Mr. Ofori-Atta stated, “we were forced to embrace this strategy because the epidemic showed us that we must re-orient our strategy toward structural change and react with a clear plan to capture the benefits of our population dividend by constructing an entrepreneurial state.”

In order to ensure that “no one is left behind in creating Ghana as an entrepreneurial nation,” he said that the three elements of the YouStart program—the Commercial Module, District Entrepreneurship, and YouStart Grace Modules—were designed to do just that.

The relationship, according to Dr. John Ampontuah Kumah, the deputy minister of finance, is essential to the government’s efforts to foster entrepreneurship and transform Ghana into an entrepreneurial State.

According to Dr. Kumah, the YouStart program aims to intentionally expand start-ups so that they can help the government’s initiative to create three million jobs, although they heavily rely on bank financing.

In order to assist create jobs and pull many people living in those areas out of poverty, he asked the PFIs to continue supporting the initiative and guarantee that it is extended to entrepreneurs who own businesses in rural areas.

According to the CEO of GAB, banks saw it as their duty to provide businesses with the financial and other support they need to expand in order to strengthen the economy.

“The COVID-19 epidemic has, in part, shown us the need of having a locally owned and operated economy in Ghana. This signing serves as confirmation that the public and private sectors can collaborate to build the entrepreneurial nation that we have all been longing for, according to Mr. Awuah.

The YouStart program, which was developed by the Banks in collaboration with the Finance Ministry to support the growth of enterprises, particularly young and smaller ones, was mentioned by the speaker.

“It’s an encouraging development. We just need to make sure that when it comes to execution, we all sit down at the table in a way that the agreement has been signed, Mr. Awuah said.

Mr. Andy Ameckson, acting coordinator for YouStart, gave a quick overview of the initiative and said that under the commercial component, banks will lend money to selected enterprises at interest rates below the market rate.

According to Mr. Ameckson, “There will be no collateral for firms to get loans under the plan, and the recovery is also depending on them [beneficiaries].”

85 young entrepreneurs participated in the YouStart program’s trial phase, which was implemented in February 2022. The launch and full-scale implementation of all three modules are now pending the President’s availability.

The program’s objective is to build a society that is Wealthy, Inclusive, Sustainable, Empowered, and Resilient (WISER), and its implementing organizations are the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) and National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP).

The National Youth Authority, Ghana Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Service, and Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) would all provide assistance to them during the implementation.

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