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A Call for a Commonwealth Youth Fund
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A Call for a Commonwealth Youth Fund

Kiiza Saddam Hussein, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Uganda who attened the Youth Connekt Africa Summit and the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM) calls for a Commonwealth Youth Fund to boost entrepreneurship, innovation, agriculture and science in the Commonwealth.

Time and time again we continue to discuss the ways of which we can address youth unemployment challenges. However, it is not that policy recommendations or resolutions have not been previously passed but continued to be ignored and opted to prolong the rhetoric of youth unemployment.

As the world is home to 1.8 billion youth whom 1 out 3 live in the 52 commonwealth countries, 640 million people who constitute 60% are between 15 -29 years qualifying to be termed as youth according to the commonwealth definition of youth. However, a large percentage of youth remain unemployed and according to World Bank and the Global Youth Development Index and report published in 2016 by the Commonwealth Secretariat indicates that in every part of the world, young people are at least twice as likely as others to be unemployed. Whereas through the Commonwealth Youth Programme the youth have long enjoyed the support and recognition to participate in the development processes of their countries that in a long run would support in transiting to demographic dividends. One Big challenge of youth inaccessibility to funds has limited youth potential to transcend and advance youth led projects and enterprises that would translate in creation of jobs, advance sustainable development goals and inspire innovations while also engaging in boosting agriculture.

According to my opinion, what should be done is simple. Let there be a creation of Commonwealth Youth Fund and Commonwealth Youth Bank that will administer the fund in order to be accessible to all youth in the Commonwealth member states.

As I attended the Youth Connekt Africa Summit that was held from 19-21 August 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda where youth from 90 countries participated to find solutions and take actions of creating jobs for the youth. My question to the panelist was simple; every youth wants to own a business and wants to employ some one but how do we assist youth to access funds so that they can move from potential to success? The answer from the career banker the President of African Development Bank (Dr.Akinwumi Adesina ) was simple. It is to assist youth to have access to funds through interest free loans. The statement was echoed by Jack Ma who is the Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.

The call to financially and technically support youth initiatives had prior been also reaffirmed through the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneur – East Africa (CAYE-EA) chapter’s inaugural summit communiqué which outlined six key imperatives that will strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region and in their respective countries and these included: Financing of entrepreneurship eco-systems and update youth entrepreneurship policies and frameworks in East African countries, Financing for startups and Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Entrepreneurship skills, education and capacity building for youth , Facilitate cross border trade ,  Strengthening networks and Strengthen the intellectual property regimes to safeguard innovation and inventions. These are the same recommendations I wish the conveners of the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM) should carry on but also call for implementation and action.

I believe that the Commonwealth has the potential of raising funds through its member states, private partners and other international institutions such as the UN, World Bank and International Monetary Fund where they can gunner financial and technical support to establish the Commonwealth Youth Fund and Commonwealth Youth Bank.

If the fund and the bank is established, we shall see real action and implementation of the long awaited recommendations that have since remained in files and reports due to inadequate finances. For example, with the establishment of Youth Fund, youth will be able to borrow money as an interest free loan after their projects have be scrutinized, found realistic and able to employ other fellow youth. The issue that comes in mind in this instance is the question of security to the bank. We well know that majority of youth have no properties to offer as security, however, the governments will be required to intervene and act as the guarantor to those youths after they have been profiled and their projects have been exhaustively documented with a clear follow up.

To my proposition, if the Youth Fund is created, it should mainly be awarded to projects that are characterized to boost entrepreneurship, innovation, agriculture and science. With these four categories, jobs shall be created and economies will boost their national GDP (growth domestic product) hence a realization of Sustainable Development Goals.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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