Statement Presented By CEO, Youth Enterprise Support (YES) at a media briefing session on Monday 10th August 2015
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Hon. Minister for Communications
Hon Deputy Ministers
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media
Distinguished invited guests
Good morning, and thank you all for honoring our invitation to this press briefing.
We invited you here today to interact with you and to share with you the story of YOUTH ENTERPRISE SUPPORT (YES) a year after it was launched by H.E. President John Dramani Mahama.
Indeed it has been a momentous "YEAR OF YES" and we are excited to share the story of our progress with you.
As a young, fledgling start-up ourselves, we at YES are extremely proud to be able to announce our very own pioneer group of budding, young Ghanaian entrepreneurs ready to lead the economic transformation of our dear nation.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, do permit me to start from the very beginning.
The YOUTH ENTERPRISE SUPPORT (YES) initiative evolved from the passion of H.E. President John Dramani Mahama for the meaningful development and empowerment of the Ghanaian youth.
At the core of this passion is a philosophy that the youth are as much a part of our present as they are of our future.
YES was borne out of the realization that the creativity, drive and innovation of the youth is the key to national development and economic transformation.
YES aims to stimulate Ghana's economic growth by harnessing the vision and creativity of young entrepreneurs through the strategic provision of financial and expert business advisory support.
YES was launched in August 2014 as a special youth initiative operating under the Office Of The President. To many watchers and analysts, this was a time when youth initiatives were in the media for all the wrong reasons.
The launch and establishment of YES with a seed fund of Ghc10 million is therefore a clear testimony to the genuine, unwavering passion and confidence in the youth demonstrated by H.E. The President.
Young Ghanaians aged between 18-35 years with a minimum of a JHS qualification and a viable business proposal were encouraged to apply to YES for support.
We opened our first call for submission of business plans and proposals on 1st September, 2014 with an initial deadline of 10th October, 2014.
The deadline for the first call was however extended to 28th November, 2014 to enable us re-structure our operations, recruit key staff and also plan towards the selection and constitution of the requisite panel of experts to review the various proposals and business plans. Within the same period, we developed our Terms of Reference and Policy Framework Document to guide our operations and activities.
Our first call received an overwhelming response from the youth of Ghana.
A total of 2,048 applications were received by the deadline.
Of these 1,116 were submitted through our online portal whilst 932 were submitted by hand or post. Applications were received from all 10 regions of Ghana with a sector breakdown comprising:
(922) 45% - Agriculture/Agribusiness , (635) 31% - Services and (491) 24% - Cottage Industry. Screening of applications yielded 1681 valid applications.
Following the screening of applications, regional business clinics were held for applicants from October 2014 to March 2015.
These interactive business clinics helped us understand the applicants better whilst simultaneously clearing misconceptions and helping applicants to understand the process.
Feedback received from the applicants clearly indicated that the platform provided valuable business lessons and skills.
The business clinics also helped applicants to appreciate the content and viability of their various business proposals. Applicants were assisted and encouraged to make changes and resubmit where applicable.
A total of 365 applicants successfully resubmitted their proposals and duly qualified for the final stage of the selection process.
At this final stage, each of these 365 applicants were required to present and defend their business proposals before an expert panel drawn from relevant professional bodies and business sectors. 107 applicants were adjudged by the expert panel to have met the criteria for YES support.
The sector breakdown of the 107 successful beneficiaries is (68) 63.55% in Agriculture/Agribusiness (36) 33.64% in Services and (3) 2.80% in Cottage Industries.
The 107 YES beneficiaries will both receive financial and technical support.
Beneficiaries will be strictly monitored by the YES secretariat and its partner agencies at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey.
A second batch of 350 applicants from the first call will present and defend their proposals before the expert panel for selection shortly.
Over the past year, YES has held meetings and collaborated actively with relevant ministries, departments and agencies. Our deliberations emphasized the creation of strategic synergies in order to enhance capacity and improve our output.
Some of these MDA’s are ;
• Ministry of Food and Agriculture
• Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
• Ministry of Gender and Social Protection
• Ministry of Youth and Sports
• Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture
• Ministry of Works, Housing and Water Resources
Fruitful collaborative meetings were also held with other relevant agencies such as:
The Gratis Foundation, Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, Food Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, The University of Ghana Animal Research Centre as well the Forest and Horticultural Research Centre .
Our collaboration with the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce focused on the areas of technology transfer, best practices, direct job placement and route to markets, as well as mentorship and coaching.
YES was offered a platform during the GNCC last quarter meeting of 2014 and their executives were excited about the envisaged collaboration with YES.
We have also established an effective partnership with Africa Lead II , a USAID program aimed at providing capacity building skills for the youth farmers towards improving food and crop production. As a result 5 YES applicants took part in a 5 day training programme in Koforidua with the theme:”Building Capacity for African Agricultural Transformation”
African lead II has also expressed interest in supporting our youth farmers in the northern sector.
During our first year YES held separate meetings with the various youth and student organizations. These include:
Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs, Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana, Ghana National Union of Students, Youth Authority Ngoyiyi Fish Farmers Association. These meetings provided the opportunity for these groups to make input and also clarify and misconceptions about the structure and mode of operation of the YES program.
We are encouraged by the high level of youth interest and buy-in to the YES program. This is remarkable considering challenges with misinformation and negative attitudes from some quarters.
The YES team has worked tirelessly to communicate the YES message and effectively address questions raised by applicants, youth groups and some stakeholders.
Many were those who labeled the YES program as just another mass handout of free money.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to state categorically that YES is not a mass production line.
On the contrary, YES is a strategically targeted youth intervention that aims to identify and support exceptional entrepreneurial potential.
Our applicants welcome and accept the challenge posed by the rigorous selection procedure.
Indeed they have truly vindicated the trust placed in Ghanaian youth by H.E. President John Mahama.
To guarantee the sustainability and success of the YES program, we have designed an elaborate tracking, monitoring and evaluation scheme to ensure efficient utilization of resources.
All successful applicants will be held to strict business ethics and repayment plans.
It is encouraging to note that, despite the harsh economic realities, there are courageous, young Ghanaians who believe in their ability to shape their destiny and transform our dear nation, Ghana.
It is against this background that YES proudly celebrates our first batch of successful beneficiaries.
We believe we have achieved significant results in this regard and the feedback from our applicants and stakeholders bears clear positive testimony.
On behalf of all Ghanaian youth, I wish to express sincere gratitude to H E President John Mahama for this unique and laudable initiative.
YES will continue to work hard to achieve the ultimate success, which is the economic transformation of Ghana.
We salute the youth of Ghana!
YES YOUTH CAN!
Thank you very much for your kind attention.