By Eugene Davis
Unemployed young people, women, existing MSME’s owned by school dropouts and persons with disabilities are to be given help to start up in business through an intervention dubbed YouStart Ghana Jobs and Skills Project.
According to Trade and Industry Minister, Kobina Tahir Hammond, government is lending a hand to tackle the country’s youth unemployment by encouraging more people to start a new business, to kick start economic growth.
He adds that the YouStart Ghana Jobs and Skills Project, is intended to create over a million entrepreneurs in the next years.
The government through the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) is implementing Component 2.1 of the Project which has the objective of providing Entrepreneurship Training and Competitive Start-up Grants to youth who have the potential to start a business. The project is geared to train 50,000+ youth upon completion.
Speaking with the press on Monday after touring some training centres to monitor the progress following the start of the programme nationwide, the Trade Minister said “Today commences programme of training for the youth who are determined to engage in some enterprises of their own essentially small medium enterprises, it is starting all over the country about 188 districts, we expect that by the end of this first stage/by close of the exercise we will be able to train about 50,000 youth to be able to engage in their respective enterprises in their respective capacities -that is what has brought us here.
Government is going on a drive to ensure there is employment in the country, we would not say full employment -it is governmentally and humanly impossible to create 100persons employment but then again government puts steps in place which at least would go to some extent to ensure there is some level in the country.
the youth unemployment is phenomenal, many years ago it was not like this, with the expansion in growth and population, you expect a situation like this, this is what government is trying to ameliorate, so there is the drive to ensure that in about three years time, we should be looking at the creation of about a million employment in the system. That is what has brought us here, we will go to other areas to see how it is progressing but essentially it is going on in all the 16 districts in country. We hope in the fullness of time, some monies would be available to push these individuals on the path to their own employment.”
CEO of Ghana Enterprises Agency, (GEA) Kosi Yankey-Ayeh underscored the rationale for the programme.
She said “It falls under the Ghana Jobs and Skills project – the goal is to provide entrepreneurship training and competitive start-up grant to the youth of these nation. When we started this programme, the focus was not only to look at funding but access to technical assistance -training, access to how we can build them to access better market, to get better quality product and those who are able to successfully go through the project to be able to access some funding.
The target for this first phase is 50,000 beneficiaries who would go through training programmes -the initial training is the basic, which has started. There are different levels of beneficiaries within this project that we working on, those who are successful, committed would then be moved unto the intermediate level where they will also receive some form of training in a period of ten days and the final leg is the advance training where they will also get some mentoring and coaching, and support, because we believe that we can’t just leave them and only teach them but also if we are able to bring on board people who have been through the process who can handhold them, it makes it easier for them to get the mentorship to propel them to start, so that is what this project is looking at.”
By the end of the first phase, 7189 participants, 3595 would pass out at intermediate and advanced level respectively.
According to management, not all participants will receive the grant, because it is a competitive grant and participants must meet certain requirements, such as having credible company ideas, having a skill and requiring start-up kits, and existing youth enterprises displaying growth and the ability to employ additional youth.
The project’s implementation began on April 25, 2023, in Regional capitals around the nation, and will continue through May 8, 2023, in all 261 districts in the nation.
Participants are also undergoing a series of Entrepreneurship, financial literacy, kaizen, coaching, and mentoring training to build their capacities as they look to establish, grow and sustaining their businesses.
Training under the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project will be in 3 levels: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.
Basic Level: All participants must go through Basic Training of 5 Days. They will need to participate fully and complete this level to progress to intermediate level.
Intermediate Level: This training will last for 10days. Participants will need to participate fully and complete intermediate to progress to advanced level training. Also, at this stage, existing youth businesses and unemployed youth with vocational skills will be eligible to apply for grant support. The grant support at this stage is highly competitive.
Advanced Level: This level will last for 15days. It will involve an incubation process to finetune business plans/idea, provide coaching and mentoring and access to network events/ trade shows.
There is also a competitive grant support component in the project which will take the form of cash grants for working capital, capital regulatory and formalization support, purchase of ICT business solutions and start-up Kits (Tools, Equipment and Technologies).
The World Bank is providing financing and technical support to the Government of Ghana (GoG) for the implementation of the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project.
Following a successful launch of the Youstart Ghana Jobs and Skills Project in November 2022, an online portal was opened for interested persons to apply for the project.
Further, GEA disclosed that “288,000 applications were received when the portal closed. After the application, those who scored the past mark were shortlisted. However, training has been broken down into phases due to the number of applicants. Breaking down training in phases also ensure that we limit the trainer-participant ratios to provide a quality learner experience.”