Local Banks Commit GH¢5bn To SMEs Under ‘YouStart’ Programme

Ken Ofori-Atta

Local banks have committed ¢5 billion from their Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) portfolio to support young entrepreneurs under the government’s ‘YouStart’ Programme.

The amount which will be committed over a three year period is expected to boost the country’s entrepreneurial drive.
Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony in Accra, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, said the funding has come at the right time.

He said the agreement with the banks, will go a long way to support entrepreneurs gain access to capital to enhance their businesses.

“We need to create the opportunities in which people can be trained as entrepreneurs; and they also hire other people to grow. I mean if you look at the population statistics of almost 37 per cent of our people being between 15 and 35, it creates a lot of pressure. And I think it is incumbent on us to create the financial system with training and reward system that encourages entrepreneurship to take risks,” he said.

The sector minister also stated that the partnership with the banks is critical to the sustainability of the entrepreneurship eco-system development of the country.

“The Banks have committed about ¢5 billion over three years to be deployed to SMEs and that is what we are going to work with for it to happen. And so that will create excitement, especially, in this period that we are also having an arrangement with the International Monetary Fund. So, that we move beyond dependence on government and donors into our own creative energies,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Bankers Association, John Awuah, who spoke on behalf of the banks, pledged their commitment to assist entrepreneurs with substantial capital to develop and grow the SME sector.

“As a nation, we recognise that we need to build our own if the impact of Covid-19 taught us any lesson at all. It means that we need to have a homegrown economy, an economy owned and managed by Ghanaians.”

“So this signing ceremony is about attestation that the public and the private sector can work together to create the value and entrepreneurship country that we have all been yearning for”, he stressed.

“As a community of banks, we helped the Ministry of Finance to design a product that we believe will help propel businesses particularly younger and smaller businesses to move them to the next level. We only have to make sure that what we have put on paper when it comes to the execution we all come to the table in the manner in which the agreement had been signed”, he added.

The government is expected to officially launch the ‘YouStart’ programme in November 2022.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri