First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has launched the Young Africa Works Project to increase opportunities for the youth by creating fulfilling and dignified jobs.
An initiative of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) and MasterCard Foundation, the $ 30m project over the next three years, will create 39,000 jobs for the youth, 70 per cent of which will be women.
Speaking at the launch, Mrs. Akufo-Addo said she was very pleased with the initiative as it is aligned with President Akufo-Addo's Ghana Beyond Aid agenda which integrally seeks to provide the youth with fulfilling and dignified jobs.
She stated that since his assumption of office, President Akufo-Addo has launched a number of initiatives including the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme to create the platform for training and work experience acquisition by the youth as well as provide integrated support including funding, for start-ups and young businesses.
Despite these initiatives by government, Mrs. Akufo-Addo said youth unemployment still persists, a situation which calls for strategic measures and policies that take into consideration youth development and integration.
According to her, youth unemployment has the potential to create serious social consequences and can lead to social exclusion and unrest.
The situation, she noted, calls for the private sector and other bodies to partner government to support youth employment and entrepreneurship.
To this end, Mrs. Akufo-Addo said as part of the Rebecca Foundation's women's empowerment initiative, Terema, partnered with NBSSI to train some young women in various skills and used the occasion to present sewing machines to a batch of young women who recently completed their training while promising her Foundation's determination to train and provide more women with start-up kits and other equipment to start their own businesses.
The First Lady also called on traditional, religious and community leaders to rally behind the NBSSI/Mastercard Foundation initiative, to enable the youth boldly step into the new future, where their individual and collective contribution will transform Ghana.
Chief Executive Officer of the NBSSI, Kosi Yankey-Ayeh said the initiative will target graduate youth, out of school youth, school dropouts, and women-owned led micro, small and medium enterprises.
She said through the approaches of innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, apprenticeship and business acceleration the vibrant Ghanaian youth can earn a sustainable income.
“Thanks to this initiative, the destinies of thousands of young Ghanaians will be fulfilled, ” she said.
MasterCard Foundation’s Regional Head for West, Central and North Africa Nathalie Gabala, expressed delight to be part of the initiative which will enable young people to access dignified and fulfilled work and empower entrepreneurs to expand their operations.
"Our goal at the Foundation is to catalyze action through partnership that delivers sustainable outcome, ” she said.