Launch Address- Youth Enterprise Support (YES) Initiative- by President John Mahama
Monday, August 11, 2014
Thank you Nana Asaase.
And thank you all, young ladies and young men for being part of today’s history making launch of the YES initiative.
In the last several months as President, I have had series of interactions—both formal and informal—with young persons and youth groups across the nation.
On all these occasions, I have always come away both inspired and challenged listening to your aspirations and expectations.
Were you not inspired by Kafui Mansu’s story in the clip you just watched? Don’t you just wish, as I do, that at age 23, you had the mind and focus she had? Four (4) years on, Kafui is producing in a single batch, more than GH¢100,000 worth of cosmetics.
Across our country, there are many unknown young entrepreneurs whose success should be a motivation, and a good enough illustration of why young Ghanaians with business ideas need to be supported.
At age 30, Mabel Simpson, resigned her office job in 2010 to set-up her fashion accessory brand, MSIMPS. Initial capital was a challenge, but Mabel made do with GH¢200 and a sewing machine she borrowed from her grandmother.
Today, MSIMPS manufactures customized hand-made accessories such as handbags, dresses and hair brooches, laptop bags, shoes and other accessories. She obtains about 80% of her raw materials from Ghana.
Mabel’s company provides direct and indirect employment to several Ghanaians, and her products are now in shops inthe US, Australia, Nigeria and South Africa.
And there is Rafiatu Nafisa Adams who after her secondary education at the Navrongo SHS, had to work as a house maid to raise funds for her university education. And guess what? While in the university, she started a beads making business to be able to continue paying her fees.
After university, she went back to Paga and started her social enterprise, Beads of Hope, and her largest markets are in Canada and America.
There are many more youth achievers to talk about. It means, my dear brothers and sisters that, young Ghanaians can not only be an inspiration and hope to our nation, but can also take their rightful places in business by creating jobs when given the opportunity.
The Youth Enterprise Support- YES Initiative is your opportunity to be like Mabel, Kafui or Rafiatu.
YES should be your motivation to stop dreaming about your proposed business venture and actually put those dreams to reality.
YES is the vehicle that will propel innovation and business confidence in the Ghanaian Youth.
YES is the opportunity you get to learn from the success of other young business people like Kafui, Mabel and Rafiatu through mentoring to start implement your dreams a lot better than they did. If you have a good business idea that will employ other youth and help our economy move forward, you may approach YES for support.
The YES Secretariat is open for business and details on how to benefit from YES are available at the website-WWW.YES.GOV.GH.
You need to be a young Ghanaian citizen with a good business plan or idea. Your business idea should be able to create at least five job opportunities within a defined time frame when supported.
Even if you do not have problems with your seed capital but wish to develop the know-how and confidence to start your own business; YES will help build that confidence.
YES will provide you with that push; that impetus to get off your seat. YES will help you develop a business plan, give you training in the rudiments of business and finance management, time management, stress management, improving sales, managing and reducing costs, debt recovery techniques, stock control techniques, marketing and recruitment among others.
YES would also assist young entrepreneurs in the areas of business counseling, mentorship support, business expansion support, networking, and other skills for successful business management.
For too long, youthfulness has been pictured as a transitional state; it is seen as a state that has to be traversed in order to achieve adulthood. This orientation runs counter to my fundamental belief that sees the youth as a resource for nation-building and economic transformation.
For me I believe the youth like any other segment of our population, must be valued for what they are now, not only for what they may become; and given all the necessary assistance to play leading roles in our quest for socio-economic transformation.
I believe the youth are our nation’s resource for durable solutions.
As I indicated in my address to the United Nations in September 2012, you the youth are not only our future; you are also our invaluable and treasured present.
The YES initiative is here to provide collaborative assistance to you our young compatriots so that you can grab opportunities early in life, and use the positive elements of those opportunities to improve your livelihood and those of others by investing your resources, talents, and creativity in productive ventures.
Government is committed to developing a generation of young Ghanaians, who effectively internalize the wisdom of nation-building as a collective endeavor, and committed to adding value to their social surroundings through diligence, hard work, personal and collaborative initiatives with positive dividends for our society.
We will leverage additional funds under different financing schemes to support young entrepreneurs.
The YES initiative is a manifestation of our strong conviction that our young people hold the key to socio-economic prosperity. But Prosperity will not come easy. History has shown that the prosperity you desire will only manifest itselfthrough innovation, creativity, and the audacity to turn your ideas into businesses.
YES is our statement that creative and enterprising people must value the dignity of work; mindful of risks; undertakelifelong learning; and persistently seek solutions for challenges.
YES is a demonstration of our trust and confidence in young Ghanaians. Our youth are no exception to the manycharacteristics of the modern entrepreneur that leading economists and social scientists have through research brought to our attention. I believe in the creativity of the Ghanaian youth.
I am very confident that the youth of our country Ghana have the capacity to develop innovative solutions not only for business purposes but also for the greater good of our society.
Embedded in the YES initiative that we are launching today, is a challenge to our people to dare to dream, and reach out for support to turn those dreams into life changing opportunities for themselves and others.
Most of the printed materials we are using here today were procured from Ghanaians, young Ghanaians. The beautiful round neck YES shirts you are wearing were produced by a young man who can barely read and write English but took advantage of a training session at the ATTC, and today has his own business producing these shirts and the branded materials you see around.
The YES booklets and invitations were printed by a young KNUST graduate who, after working with a printing company for a few years, walked out boldly and today has his own publishing firm.
Sitting by me is a person with disability, ATROS, who has started a thriving shoe making business here in Accra.
This should tell you that you can also do it. In business and life your resolve will be tested, you will be confronted by what might seem insurmountable challenges, but always be reminded that the tenacity not to give up, and the strength to be unyielding is what will set you on the path to success.
We marvel when we read the story of the famous and successful business people. Many of these people, the Rockefellers, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Dangotes all begun from humble beginnings.
Be confident in the pursuit of your entrepreneurial aspirations. Never must you retreat or ‘give up’ at the first sign of difficulty.
This is a reminder to our young people that to be innovative and entrepreneurial is to be willing to devote yourselffully and unreservedly to turning your business ideas into reality.
More than ever, our nation needs its youth to stand up and demonstrate their creativity and the desire to shake up their comfort zones. The YES initiative is here to propel you to prosperity.
Thank you for coming, and let me say that I will follow attentively the progress of this youth initiative.