National Youth Fund: Availability versus Accessibility

Youths in Matabeleland and possibly in other parts of the country, are failing to fully benefit from government’s Youth fund as it has been poorly publicised and administered. Dozens of young people attending NYDT’s policy dialogue meetings on the terms and conditions for application, allocation and repayment of the funds, have expressed disappointment at the fact that the fund is actually a loan which many will be unable to repay within the 6months stipulated by the youth ministry.
“We have been led to believe that this fund is meant to help youths from disadvantaged backgrounds to make a break at earning an honest living” bemoaned a young lady “But how can I do that if I am expected to pay back this loan at an annual interest rate of 8% within 6 months.”
The main complaints were that there was lack of publicity in other regions on how the funds can be accessed which has meant that most of the money has gone to youths in the capital city. The other concern was that all projects regardless of how big or how good would only be able to get funding of no more than $1000. This the youths felt was a limitation to those who have bigger projects as they expressed that the government was in away restricting them to small ideas.
The recommendations were that the government becomes guarantor of all youth loans so as not to place the burden of repaying the loans on already struggling families most of which are child headed. It was also recommended that the ministry works closely with local governments in order for councils to allocate premises and land at affordable prices to young people running these projects as the loans were already not enough to start viable businesses.
The questions still to be answered are:
• Why has there been little or no publicity on the youth fund?
• Why is government limiting all loans to $1000?

More youth meetings are to be held covering this topic. Please make a point to be part of the debate. The next meeting will be at the NYDT’s York House offices on Friday 5March 2010 at 1400hrs. See you there!

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