Creating sustainable opportunities for the youth as a vehicle for ensuring they are able to access the means for sustainable livelihoods has been a major challenge confronting many nations all over the world. To address the above challenge, successive governments in Ghana have designed and implemented various employment and entrepreneurship interventions for the youth.
Despite the good intentions, it is widely acknowledged that government alone cannot address all the myriad of challenges confronting the youth. It is in light of the above that the role and contribution of civil society and NGOs become important in complimenting the efforts of government.
In response to the need for the creation of employment and entrepreneurship pathways for the youth, CAMFED and its partners have been working with young women to forge innovative pathways to enable their successful transition from school to a secure position from which to achieve sustainable livelihoods. CAMFED Ghana, with funding from the Mastercard Foundation, is implementing a transition program titled "Enable young women to transition from school to entrepreneurship, further study and transformative leadership in Ghana".
The transition program is designed, amongst others, to enable young women to transition from school to entrepreneurship, further study, employment and transformative leadership in Ghana.
The specific objectives of the transition program are to equip young women who complete secondary school with knowledge and skills to make informed decisions on their pathways to successful livelihoods and connect them to accessible and affordable sources of capital and financial education for business launching and growth.
The program is also designed to demonstrate the positive impact of supporting educated young women, during their transition, to influence policy towards supporting their transition into adulthood, and empower them to play active roles in local and national development.
Scholars who tread the path of entrepreneurship under the transition program are provided with training, start-up kits, internships, peer mentoring and tailored business advisory support from the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), successful entrepreneurs from CAMFED's Innovation Bursary Program and other institutions.
Recently a four-day residential entrepreneurship training programme was held to provide selected young women with the requisite business development, growth and management skills needed to successfully run their businesses. A total of 300 young women from the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Central regions participated in the training programme held in Tamale.
Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund
As a step towards ensuring that Scholars who tread the path of entrepreneurship and have received training are resourced financially to be able to start their businesses, an entrepreneurship fund designed to provide funding to Mastercard Foundation Scholars and alumni who have viable, sustainable and scalable business ideas that also have a social impact was recently launched at the University of Education, Winneba.
Known as the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund (SEF), this is a USD 200,000 supplemental funding allocated to support the Foundation's Scholars and alumni as catalyzers of economic opportunities for others, thereby helping them to become transformative leaders.
Given the limited job opportunities available to the youth, the Foundation believes that young people will need to create their own economic opportunities, while creating economic opportunities for others too.
The SEF responds to a need expressed by Scholars themselves, many of whom have great ideas, but face challenges in accessing funding to implement their ideas. The SEF links directly to the Foundation's Young Africa Works strategy which aims at supporting young people to access capital so that they can grow their businesses within various sectors of the economy.
The SEF is intended to provide financial support for new ideas and scale up existing projects, facilitate opportunities for Scholars to give back, and expand transformative leadership competencies. It is also designed to serve as a "transition" vehicle while providing economic opportunities for the Scholars and others, especially women and young people.
All current Mastercard Foundation Scholars at CAMFED and alumni are eligible to apply to the SEF. The selection criteria and process have been documented and widely disseminated, and winners will be selected based on the project design, model and criteria established by CAMFED in consultation with the Scholars Council. CAMFED and its partners will provide adequate support and guidance to successful candidates for the duration of their project, in order to optimize the success of their ventures.
As we celebrate this year's International Women's Day, a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women under the campaign theme #BalanceforBetter, CAMFED affirms its commitment to work with partners such as the Mastercard Foundation, and indeed all like-minded organizations to provide opportunities for girls and young women to overcome the barriers confronting them and achieve their fullest potential. We will work towards Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is on the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls by 2030.