First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo on Wednesday launched the Young Africa Works partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) in Accra.
In line with the government’s ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ Agenda, the Young Africa Works project is expected to create 39,000 jobs (70 percent of which will be women) over a three-year period.
It will target graduate youth, out-of-school youth, school dropouts, and women owned and led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
In her keynote address at the launch, Mrs Akufo-Addo commended the Mastercard Foundation and the NBSSI for championing the initiative aimed at putting young people at work.
According to the June 2020 Mundi Index, the youth represent 57 per cent of Ghana’s total population.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said from the statistics it was safe to conclude that young people were an important asset to the labour market and a significant driver of the national economy.
“Young people who are the forefront of change and innovation have the drive to make things happen. All they need is the space to excel,” she said.
Mrs Akufo-Addo was delighted that the partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and the NBSSI would enable close to 40,000 young Ghanaians have access to dignified work across the country.
“The Young Africa Works project aligns with government’s agenda for jobs initiative and will contribute significantly to putting our young people, the architects of Ghana’s economic transformation, to work,” she added.
On her part, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, the Executive Director NBSSI, emphasized the role of NBSSI In entrepreneurial and MSME development and how the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works project would contribute significantly to facilitating the mandate.
She said, “thanks to this initiative, the destinies of thousands of young Ghanaians would be fulfilled. Our vibrant youth, particularly young women who need a push to unearth and/or strengthen their entrepreneurial potential, can now dream again as we activate this project across the country effective today”
The NBSSI and Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works partnership was solidified in December 2019 and falls under the NBSSI’s Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Programme.
It consists of three main interventions, including: Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) which aims to transform young people, especially young women into successful, creative and innovative entrepreneurs; Apprenticeship to Entrepreneurship (AZE) initiative, which is an apprenticeship and entrepreneurship programmes to equip young women and men to earn a sustainable income; and MSME Business Acceleration which is to fast-track the productivity and growth of MSMEs through networking, access to finance, and markets.
Commenting on the partnership, Nathalie Akon Gabala, Mastercard Foundation’s Regional Head for West, Central & North Africa said, “We are delighted that our partnership with the NBSSI, under our Young Africa Works strategy, is going live across the country. It will enable young people to access dignified and fulfilling work and empower entrepreneurs to expand their operations. Our goal at the Foundation Is to catalyze action through partnerships that deliver sustainable outcomes.”
Mr Ishmael Ashitey, the Greater-Accra Regional Minister, who chaired the launch, commend the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) and partners for the introduction of the three-year Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Program (YEEP) which seeks to unlock opportunities for youth employment in Ghana.
“Let us all with a tenacity of purpose be inspired by the efforts of NBSSI to help create a conducive environment for MSMEs to blossom and enhance Ghana’s drive towards accelerated development and growth,” he said.
To enable access to all, the project will run across all 180 district offices of the NBSSI and accessible on their website.
Similar launch events were held in Cape Coast, in the Central Region, and others planned for several regions in the country under the theme: “Creating Dignified and Sustainable Work for Ghana’s Young People.”