Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
Government has introduced the Presidential Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (PYEP), which seeks to drive entrepreneurship among youths.
The programme will see establishment of a National Venture Capital Fund (NVCF) aimed at enabling youths to access affordable loans, including those engaged in production, thereby encouraging them to be job creators and not job seekers.
The fund, which will be capitalised in both local and foreign currency, will also target start-up projects by youths, with preference being given to targeted areas in the context of the local content strategy.
Treasury has since set aside $500 million for the fund.
To complement the entrepreneurship programme, Government has also introduced a tax incentive for employers who generate employment for young job seekers.
Under the programme running under the banner, “Youth Empowerment Tax Incentive (YETI)”, an additional job created will attract a percentage tax rebate to the employer, linked to the employees’ salary.
This measure is anticipated to reduce the employers cost of hiring young people through a co-sharing mechanism with Government.
To operationalise YETI, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will work with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare, the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) and other relevant stakeholders.
Presenting the 2020 National Budget in Harare on Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said youths contribute immensely to national development, but sometimes their potential was not realised.
“The youths are making an important contribution to economies as productive workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, citizens, members of society and agents of change,” said Prof Ncube.
“Taking advantage of this demographic dividend can also speed up the pace for inclusive economic development.
“In most cases, the full potential of young people is not realised owing to lack of access to productive and decent jobs.”
Zimbabwe Youth Council director for operations Mr Sungano Chisina commended Government for introducing the two initiatives, saying they will make a great impact on the economy which is currently being driven and dominated by the informal sector.
Mr Chisina said the two initiatives will see more innovations and ideas coming on board by young people.
“The NVCF will create demand for innovative ideas from young people,” he said.
“For example, what that means is that when young people go into university, they will be going there to sharpen their entrepreneurship skills.
“This initiative will, therefore, have a bearing on the education curriculum as it will need to be skewed towards entrepreneurship.”
Mr Chisina said the YETI will then play a complementary role to entrepreneurship programme through absorbing some of the youths into the new industries created by the same youths.
He said the YETI programme will also increase participation of private companies in Government programmes.
EMCOZ President Mr Israel Murefu also commended the YETI programme, saying it was a positive step in the right direction.
He said there was need to provide more incentives for employers so that they create more jobs and solve the problem of unemployment.
“While this is a step in the right direction, there is need to work on the general economic problems so that businesses remain viable and attractive for investors for creation of more jobs,” said Mr Murefu.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Mr Henry Ruzvidzo said the challenge of unemployment of youths in the country was real, yet they are the ones with the energy and ideas to ‘turn things around for our businesses.”
He said while the incentive will encourage industry to also employ youths, there was need to ensure that there was sufficient employment for everyone.