The National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) has welcomed the move by the Ministry of Youth Indigenisation and Economic Development to revive the national youth fund after reviewing its weaknesses.
The Minister of Youth Indigenisation and Economic Development, Chris Mushowe declared that he is in the final stages of consulting youth leaders to come up with a new model that will improve the performance of the loans and permanently empower the youth.
The youth fund was suspended at the beginning of 2014 following a poor rate of repayment which stood at 92% and a decision by the trustees of the fund to temporarily freeze the facility to allow the finalisation of a new model that is less risky and reduces the default rates.
“It is the view of the NYDT that the starting point for the Ministry should be the development of a youth development funds strategy that will inform funding priorities both in terms of the nature of projects and the target areas. Such a strategy shall constitute the broader framework within which all youth funds operate and thus enable them to be effectively measurable.
“The Ministry and the trustees of the fund also need to come up with a model that is not only sensitive to the circumstances of young people but is also administered and managed in a manner that is sustainable. The dead aid scenario that existed in the fund previously cannot continue as it impacts negatively on the sustainability of the fund,” said the organisation, in a statement.
NYDT also suggested that the new model should have clearly laid out penalties for defaulters.
“In an effort to curb the high rate of defaulters, the fund may need to explore the option of joint liability and draw lessons from the Grameen bank in Bangladesh. There is also a need to draw lessons from other successful youth funds globally and apply what is relevant to Zimbabwe.
“Training and capacity building is a prerequisite for all youth development funds that the National youth fund cannot afford to ignore. As such it is our hope that the model that the key stakeholders in the fund are working on is clear on the strategy for capacity building for both potential and actual beneficiaries of the fund, “ NYDT noted.
The Bulawayo based organisation urged the ministry to set up an independent youth-based panel to oversee the assessment and approval of the funds.
“These should be set up at a provincial level so they are more accessible to young people and are more efficient in the assessment of proposals. Such a move will also contribute to making the fund more transparent and accountable,” the organisation said.