17 January 2013

Zambia: How to Access Youth Fund

THE Youth Development Fund is open to all youth meeting the eligibility criteria as set out in the guidelines.

AS promised last week, I have decided to publish something on the Youth Development Fund (YDF) to answer a number of questions the column has been receiving from readers in the past few weeks.

According to the YDF operations manual, Zambia is a country whose population is significantly youthful; the youth population (aged between 15 to 34 years) stands at 4,582,433, representing 35 per cent of the total populace of 13,092,666 (Central Statistical Office: 2010).

In this regard, one of the major challenges that the Government of the Republic of Zambia is facing is that of high levels of youth unemployment and under-employment. To address this situation, the Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sport has created the Youth Development Fund aimed at empowering the youth with finances and capacity building through the Revolving Fund and Grant Support.

Furthermore, entrepreneurship has been recognised world-over as an integral component of youth employment creation that is being attained through enterprise training and development, micro-credit for small-scale businesses as well as start-up capital.

The fund is a catalyst to employment and wealth creation for the youth who wish to take up the risk of entrepreneurship to create employment for themselves and others. It is worth noting that self-employment is the easiest and quickest way to wealth creation using strategies at micro level.

To this effect, the Government provided K11.842 Billion in the 2012 national Budget for the YDF broken down as follows; KR6.7 million (K6.7 Billion) went to loans, KR4 million (K4.0 billion for grants) and KR1.142millon (K1.142 billion) for administration costs.

The YDF is open to all youth, youth groups, youth cooperatives and youth enterprises meeting the eligibility criteria as set out in these guidelines.

The YDF grant is open to youth associations, youth NGOs, or any other youth organisation that meets the criteria for disbursement under the grant.

The repayment periods for the YDF loans shall be as follows; Amounts from KR2,500,00 (K2,5million) to KR 10,000 (K10 million) shall be paid back within 12 months with a grace period of at least three months and amounts from KR11,000 (K11 million) to KR30,000 (KR30 million) shall be paid back within 24 months with a grace period of not more than six months.

Amounts from KR 31,000 (K31 million) to KR50,000 (K50 million) shall be paid back within 36 months with a grace period of not more than six months.

The eligible youths should be youth groups, youth owned enterprises and youth owned cooperatives.

These are Zambian youths holders of a green national registration card aged between 18 and 35 years with a legally registered business, company, cooperative and youth clubs.

One of the most important aspects and objectives of the fund proposals is to provide a clear path of employing other unemployed youths.

I had an opportunity to speak with the youth development office, Copperbelt regional coordinator Benson Chisanyi who emphasised that all application forms should be accompanied by a copy of valid certificate of business name/company registration, registration for cooperatives and youth Associations, curriculum vitae of key members of the management team; copy of valid license of operation(where applicable), certified copies of the national registration card of all project members; provide proof of physical location of business and proof of banking details.

If any of the above documents is missing, applications would not go through.

It is important to; however, mention that funding of proposals would strictly depend upon the project viability.

As for the YDF grants, they are open to youth associations, youth NGO's and any other youth focused organisations whose work or activity contributes to the empowerment and mainstreaming of the youth. Their activities may not necessarily be income generating activities.

Applicants for the youth development fund grants will be required to; clearly demonstrate how the project will contribute to youth empowerment and or mainstreaming and participation; demonstrate the ability to prudently manage donor funds.

In this regard, they will be required to provide audited accounts or open up their books of accounts to the Government internal auditors; clearly demonstrate the sustainability of the project; provide details of board members; provide the resolution by the board to apply for the grant from the YDF; provide necessary recommendations from the local leadership;the project will be required to submit monthly progress reports to the provincial youth development coordinator by 5th of the following month.

Mr Chisanyi reminded youths that the revolving YDF was an on-going programme providing financing, capacity building and coaching and mentorship.He reiterated that the Government is trying to embrace empower youths to embrace the culture of entrepreneurship.

For all those who did not know about this and maybe you did not succeed, the good news is that for the 2013 YDF, the Government has budgeted KR19.1 million (K19.1billion) to support youth enterprises compared to KR11.8 million (K11.8 billion) in the 2012 Budget.

This was revealed by Minister of Youth and Sport Chishimba Kambwili who said this in a ministerial policy statement in support of the 2013 estimates for his ministry. Mr Kambwili said the 2013 YDF amount represent a 42 per cent increase, a bigger chunk of this money will go to loans.

All those youths who would like to apply for the funds can get the application forms (the forms include a YDF operations manual and a guarantor's form) free of charge from the Ministry of Youth and Sport headquarters, all provincial youth development offices, District Commissioner's offices and youth resource centres throughout the country.And finally, when all that is done it is time to lay back and wait for that cheque which would start your project's journey to turning around the economy of this country.

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