The Deputy Finance Minister, Dr. John Kumah, has announced that the government intends to transition Nation Builders’ Corps (NABCo) into the YouStart programme beginning from July 1.

According to him, the idea is to find a more sustainable alternative to the NABCo which ended in October 2021.

Speaking on JoyNews’ Pm Express Business Edition, he stated that “We have already engaged the NABCo secretariat, and there has to be a more sustainable way of looking at NABCo. As we said NABCo was for a 3-year period which ended in October 2021, and so we have to have an alternative.

“Going forward how do we make sure we support these young people who now have experience, ideas and creativity to have access to further training and working capital to be able to start their own businesses and scale up.”

The YouStart initiative under the Ghana CARES programme is being introduced to ease constraints for existing and aspiring young entrepreneurs.

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta had earlier stated that empowering the youth who were a driving force for change was a key component of the government’s plan.

He emphasised that, the initiative would ensure that skills training becomes much better aligned with the needs of sectors as drivers of future productivity growth and socio-economic transformation.

YouStart initiative, as captured in the 2022 Annual Budget would support youth-led enterprises with, 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, Starter packs (Soft loans tied to equipment acquisition) of up to GH¢50,000 for individuals and GH¢100,000 for associations and groups and a standardised loan package of between GH¢100,000 to GH¢400,000 at concessional rates for SMEs from financial institutions.

“To those who want to enter the private sector, we will leverage the CARES programme to ensure you have the skills, training, network, and credit to support the transition from the “classroom to the workplace” he said.

Meanwhile, following the completion of a test run of the programme, a consortium of nine banks have agreed to collaborate with government to provide credit to existing youth-led companies and, in the process, create one million jobs in the next three years.

The participating banks are Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG), Access Bank, Absa Bank, FBN Bank, ADB, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank and Bank of Africa.

According to Dr.John Kumah, the banks will form the commercial aspect of the YouStart programme and would assist entrepreneurs access credit with less stringent conditions to enable businesses to scale up.

“Because of our partnership with them, we want the interest rate not to be above 10%, the collateral requirement to also be exempted so that people can have access to money to scale up their businesses and of course government will provide the first loss cover, liquidity means and all that to support the banks to be able to do that. And we believe that that will make the programme more sustainable,” he explained.