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Business News of Friday, 16 November 2012

Source: GNA

Lack of access to financial services impeding youth development - Economist

Mrs Effie Simpson-Ekuban, a development economist, has cited access to financial services as one of the major factors impeding the growth of youth development in the country.

She said despite the sizeable number of universal banks, finance houses, finance and leasing companies in Ghana, a large number of the youthful population still lacked access to financial services either formal or informal sector.

Mrs Simpson-Ekuban made the remarks at the multi-stakeholders meeting on youth financial Services on the theme: “Economic Empowerment of the Youth-Enhancing Participation in and Access to Financial Services” in Accra on Thursday.

The meeting organised in partnership with the Institute for Social and Scientific Research and HFC Bank was to introduce the stakeholders to the company’s “HFC Enidaso Account” dubbed: “Start Tomorrow Today” for the youth.

She said the contribution of the youth to economic development was well recognised, yet they faced many barriers in accessing financial services.

She said to overcome the barriers and achieving successful youth financial inclusion required a multi-stakeholder approach that engaged government, regulators, financial service providers and youth service organizations.

She said the youth constituted not only a formidable demographic force, but were also responsible for the minors that made up the next generation and the aged.

“Therefore, their well-being has implications not only for their own lives, but also for the society at large,” she added.

The Development Economist explained that the ability of the youth to make meaningful contributions depended on how far the society supported their development.

She called for constant review of policies, re-assessment of priorities and commitment to address the crucial challenges of adequate financial resources for the youth.

She said that improving financial support for the youth would increase the number of new businesses, which in turn, would boost economic activity.

“It would also enable the expansion of their businesses, leading to increased productivity and growth,” Mrs Simpson-Ekuban said.

She urged stakeholders to coordinate with the various policy makers and regulators to contribute to more effective and closely aligned policies that supported financial inclusion of the youth.

Mr Charles Ofori Acquah, Executive Director, Business Development at HFC, said an account, which was part of the youth save project by the bank, was to support the children to save part of their pocket money to cater for their basic needs and educational expenses.

He told the GNA that the initiative was led by Save the Children in partnership with the Centre for Social Development at the Washington University, the new America Foundation and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor.

He said the product account was designed for the youth between the ages of 12 to 18 who were either in or out of school.

Mr Acquah said an extensive research was carried out amongst the youth to design the account as a custodian account, which afforded them the opportunity to operate their own account under supervision of a trusted adult.

He called on the youth to be dedicated in cultivating a meaningful financial saving habit and investment for their future.

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