A consortium of nine banks is collaborating with government to provide credit to existing youth-led companies and, in the process, create one million jobs in the next three years.
Under the commercial programme of the YouStart initiative, the Government will provide support for existing youth-led businesses with between GHc100,000.00 working capital and GHc500,000.00 for those in need of capital expenditure. Interest rate will not be more than 10 per cent.
Speaking to the media, Mr John Awuah, President of the Ghana Association of Bankers, listed the participating banks as Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG), Access Bank, Absa Bank, FBN Bank, ADB, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank and Bank of Africa. He was confident that with time, more banks would come on board.
He said, the community of banks was aware of the difficulties faced by entrepreneurs in accessing credit, and so the scheme aimed at making lending conditions less stringent to enable businesses to scale up and create jobs.
“The banking sector Is convinced that the Government wants to build an entrepreneurial nation through youth entrepreneurship. We have decided that this is good, and we want to grow with the private sector,” he said, adding: “Our advantage is that we are already dealing with the private sector, so we have a fair knowledge of all that goes into making a business work. We are confident that with the well-crafted conditions we are offering and our ammunition of funding, we can make fund accessibility easier to enable young entrepreneurs to launch into the deep.”
Listing the conditions for accessing the scheme, Mr Awuah said it was open to existing businesses whose prime movers were youths between ages 18 and 40. Entrepreneurs aged above 40 would have to prove that their employees were SSNIT contributors, and that 50 per cent of their employees were between 18 and 40. They would also have to show that their businesses, when supported, will be profitable and create youth employment.
“YouStart will not fund any business that is into buying and selling,” Mr Awuah said, explaining that “we don’t want to create import-dependent enterprises.”
He said through the commercial module of the YouStart programme, young people with business ideas or those who had started businesses would be trained by professionals at the Banking College, Chartered Institute of Bankers and other institutions.
Beneficiaries who successfully graduate from the training will be assisted to obtain product certification and quality assurance for their products and services, to ensure that their businesses conform to standards, regulations, and the laws of their industry.
Entrepreneurs will be trained, supported with business development services, and funded over the next three years.
On how interested applications can access the fund, Mr Awuah said a website would soon be launched. All a potential applicant has to do is fill out the form. Successful applicants can access funding “within a short period after applying.”
The YouStart commercial programme will take off at the latter part of June.