YES Fund has been launched, hurray! It’s is said that “no one knows what the man of fame was like when he was a child”. I know Ghanaians will be shortchanged with the YES FUND.
Youth Enterprise Support (YES Fund) is a ten million Ghana Cedi (GH¢10,000,000.00) seed fund. It’s one of NDC government’s many youth empowerment programmes aimed at assisting young Ghanaians who have innovative business plans to achieve their full potential. All that is big but impressive grammar.
In a lecture on African Entrepreneurship delivered at the London School of Economics on April 5, 2014, President Mahama is noted to have cited “the Skills Development Fund, the Microfinance and Small-scale Loans Centre (MASLOC), the Local Enterprises and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP), the Integrated Community Centres for Employable Skills (ICCES), the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI),the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP) and the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Development Fund,” as among the facilities the NDC government has created so far (Daily Graphic, 2014).
President Mahama’s statement that the afore-mentioned programmes have promoted entrepreneurship, especially among the youth. One would want to know why the same Mahama-led administration still launched the YES Fund. “What becomes of the existing projects to address the needs of the growing youth population?” I believe this gargantuan Fund brings with it more questions than answers.
As I was preparing for this article, I chanced upon materials on MASLOC. This confirmed my earlier suspicion that the launch of another youth fund is a mirage. MASLOC was established in 2006 to implement government’s microfinance programmes. The project targeted reducing poverty, creating jobs and wealth. By May 2012, MASLOC had contracted UT Collections Limited (UTCL) to retrieve its GH 49.5 million loans in debt. MASLOC CEO, took GH 500,000 and handing it over to a company owned by her husband. Hmmmmmmmm!
After the expiration of MASLOC, the same government setup LESDEP to train individuals from various district assemblies. MASCLOC gave machines and capital which beneficiaries were to pay within 6 months to 2 year. The government also helped the LESDEP beneficiaries by awarding them contracts for the Free School Uniforms project. That contract too didn’t end well. Under the watch of the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, and other agencies including National Youth Council, etc., LESDEP workers at the Labone office went on a wild demonstration over unpaid allowances while salaries of School Feeding Programme caterers were unpaid for countless months.
From the historical accounts given on the failed projects so far, I don’t want to go any further into the chronicles of Youth Enterprise & Skills Development (YESDEC) and Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA). Knowing the ministries which oversee youth funds, I’m not the least positive about the key agencies. The agencies include National Board for Small Scale Industries, National Youth Authority, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Finance will (this time around) guard YES FUND from failing like the others.
Reviewing the official website of YES, I found a serious anomaly which warrants my spelling doom for YES. Take for example a question like “Will I be expected to pay back financial assistance received from YES”. The administrator said “Repayment of assistance obtained from YES comes in the form of taxation (paying the appropriate tax to government) and employment creation by the business entities assisted.
YES FUND SUSTAINABILITY
This is the shady detail of the fund where I honestly think the government is taking Ghanaians for a ride. I really can’t understand how this could happen in a country called Ghana; unless, of course, YES is some philanthropy act. How can taxes be invested in businesses who won’t pay any amount to grow the same fund that supported them? I think the government should come clear on YES fund’s sustainability.
How then do senior secondary school, university graduates and the unschooled get jobs? There’s need to seal the loopholes on when the money in the fund will be replenished. Also, any other salient details tax payers may want to know about ought to be provide. Otherwise, critics will simply say to the NDCs “We Told You So”. After all is said and done, I seriously pray Ghana and YES Fund collectively work.
God bless our homeland Ghana.