BY ALEX DADAMU
THE Youth Entrepreneurs Council of Solomon Islands must be applauded for taking the frontline initiative, to put perspective, inspire, connect and collaborate with the government and young entrepreneurs of the Solomon Islands.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare uttered this when delivering his address at the first-ever organized Young Entrepreneurs Council of Solomon Islands (YECSI) Awards night on Thursday 17th November.
Prime Minister Sogavare said that he fully appreciate that through the development of the government youth policy a few years ago, and with the drive of like-minded citizens, “you have developed YECSI to where it is today. And I want to just thank those people who drive this thing, thank you for this, also to the youths involved.”
Sogavare in the meantime encouraged YECSI to improve better partnerships and develop innovative modalities with the government through the Ministry of Commerce to fully utilize funding allocations.
“Modalities that should specifically cover underneath entrepreneurial programs, and small scale value adding projects, technical entrepreneurship, training, mentoring, monitoring, and evaluation of programs to empower the youths in their entrepreneurial initiatives.
“This is very important to nurture the partnership we have developed so far, the path ahead will not be easy but together, we can face the challenges and develop a positive, youthful population to carry our nation forward,” PM Sogavare said.
He strongly pointed out that young people must be able to access finance and engage in business in any form.
“This means that after our government had revitalized the Development Bank of Solomon Islands, it has introduced portfolios that are aimed at supporting our youth, for instance, the credit line products where a $4 million allocation is managed by the Development Bank of Solomon Islands, and they can be utilized by youths to access finance at a special low-interest rate,” Sogavare said.
Further to that, Sogavare reminded banks to create more portfolios that streamlined youth efforts in them and in business and enterprises which he said means the opportunity must be modeled at the needs of the people to access finance, and to pursue the risks of thinking outside the box and embarking into the world of business.
With regards to funding support, the Prime Minister confirmed that the government continues to support youth entrepreneurship undertakings through the value-adding and downstream processing program with the Ministry of Commerce, with an allocated budget of $1 million for the purpose, whereby an estimated 40.7% of that value has been utilized in projects which included furniture makings, creative arts, and tailoring.
“The other 59.3% supported youths who participated in fish processing and kava projects. Currently, around 1.3 million is allocated to assist youth entrepreneurship programs in value-added projects.
“So far the government and the Ministry of Commerce had received project proposals endorsed by YECSI management for funding under this allocated budget.
“Under the government development budget for 2023, a further $1 million has been allocated to continue supporting the youth entrepreneurs Innovation Program,” Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare confirmed.