Business News of Wednesday, 23 January 2013
The Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) would this year collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism and the newly created Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to provide employable skills and jobs for the youth.
Mrs Bertha Sogah, Chief Executive Officer of MASLOC, who disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra on Wednesday, said the move was to enable the country’s teeming youth to be gainfully employed to enable Ghana to close the gap between her economic achievements and the realization of job creation.
Speaking in an interview with the GNA particularly on the Tourism sector, Mrs Sogah said a Steering and Evaluation Committee for Skills Development and Job Creation programme had been inaugurated and charged with the purpose of training 10,000 youth in tourism and the hospitality industry, hotel and restaurant, as well as tourist information and handicraft.
Under a skills development programme, a project which was in partnership with Messrs Craft Pro Company Limited, a private company in the hospitality sector was expected to train and employ the youth in the hospitality industry over a two year period.
Mrs Sogah who underscored the socio-economic importance of the project expressed optimism that it would help the local “chop bar” operators to upgrade their skills, work under more hygienic conditions and entice tourists to visit the country.
“This will improve the poor service conditions existing in most of the country’s tourism hotspots”, she added.
Mrs Sogah said MASLOC would initiate financial support for activities that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection would roll out this year. She said the Centre would this year open up more branches closer to the market places to make it easier for market women to access the Centre for funds.
She said the Centre would continue to roll out the poultry pilot project it started last year in the Volta Region, to serve as a model farm where farmers could visit to learn best practice for poultry farming.
Mrs Sogah expressed confidence in the ISA Brown Breed poultry birds which were used under the project and stressed that they were prolific egg layers and had a very low mortality rate.
She said beneficiary farmers under the scheme were very happy due to the regular visits and attention paid to them by both the US consultants and Ghanaian experts from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Mrs Sogah said MASLOC would continue to give quality fishing nets from Korea and outboard motors to fishermen for their businesses.
The Centre, last year, started the distribution of horse-power outboard motors to the fishers at fishing communities countrywide at subsidized cost to help boost their economic activities.
Though each of the outboard motors costs GH¢9,000.00, it was being given to the fishermen at a subsidized cost of GH¢4,900.00 as a result of the government’s intervention to boost the economic activities of fishermen.
Mrs Sogah said the Centre was in consultation with the Farmers Association of Award Winners to reach out to the membership of the Association and to give them the needed financial support.
She said MASLOC would this year carry on with the Vehicle Hire Purchase Scheme to empower individual drivers especially the youth who belonged to Taxi and Drivers’ Unions to own their vehicles after paying the loan facility within a four-year period.
Mrs Sogah said the Centre would undertake a project to provide funds to auto mechanics to enable them to purchase modern gadgets to diagnose and repair contemporary mechanically-faulty vehicles.
She said the Centre had earmarked Kumasi Suame Magazine, Sunyani and some mechanics in Greater Accra Region to set up garages to aid them in their operations.
On loan recovery, Mrs Sogah said the Centre would continue with the agreement to outsource its loans recovery activity to UT Collections Limited, a subsidiary of UT Holdings to enable MASLOC to retrieve its “delinquent loans.”
She said the Centre still had more than 20,000 applications on file, adding that her outfit needed support to enable it to meet the financial demands of subscribers and applicants.
Mrs Sogah said the Centre had asked Government to support it with GH¢50 million for its activities this year, and expressed confidence that MASLOC would continue to prudently manage the funds and the loans it had recovered to roll out projects to support the productive poor in society.
MASLOC was established to provide, manage, regulate and approve funds for microfinance and small-scale credit schemes and programmes.
The Centre targets mainly the productive poor and vulnerable in the society, including women, physically challenged and the youth, who are engaged in micro and small scale businesses to provide quick and easily accessible micro-credit facilities to reduce poverty and create employment and wealth.
MASLOC provides micro-credit or group loans, small loans, wholesale lending to microfinance institutions, Ministries, Departments and Agencies and rural banks for on-lending to the productive poor.
Economic activities funded by the Centre include food crops, agro-processing, poultry, micro-enterprise, vocations, handicrafts, fish farming and agricultural machinery.