The Zimbabwe Youth Council is pushing for additional Z$6million funding for Covid-19 cushion after they exhausted an initial $17 million that had been set aside by Treasury to retool those young people whose businesses or survival activities were affected by the pandemic.
In an interview, ZYC head of business, Sungano Chisina said they were still receiving fresh applications from youth across the country notwithstanding that they has used up their $17 million funds.
He said most of them could not participate due to mobility restrictions that went with the initial Covid-19 lockdown aimed at containing the disease given that most of them were from remote rural areas.
Chisina said most youths could not participate in both phases of disbursement when ZYC made invitations mostly because the initial phases were done online thus limiting those in rural areas where internet connectivity was almost nominal or non-existent.
“The $17million facility has gone a long way in assisting youths but has since been exhausted yet we continued to receive applications as more youths got information about the facility late. You will realize that some came from marginalised areas since we were in a lockdown. We have a third batch of applications of 1 500 who require about $7million,” said Chisina.
“Our parent Ministry has since engaged Treasury for further support and we remain optimistic that the money will be found so that we are able to assist young people, who obviously had to content with the brund of the effects of the pandemic. So in total we have used the $17m and we are also requesting for a further $7million support for the third batch which we could not resist to receive because it was coming from those youths received information late. At the onset of the programme we were in total lockdown which was restrictive so some businesses did not get information early but we managed to raise awareness. The first batch was online and there were some who could not access internet which was addressed by the easiness of lockdown.”
He said those who were being getting priority were youth registered companies and associations.
The money that was disbursed ranged between $3 000 and $5 000 and most of them were assessed and recommended from their provinces, said Chisina.
He said some of the challenges they noted was that most youth enterprises were not formalised.
Chisina said they had since engaged them and provide some training and assist them to have their businesses formalized so that they could participate in mainstream economy.
“This programme has assisted us in creating a database for our youths where we got valuable information about their activities. We now know where they are working from and we are monitoring and evaluating their projects. There were those youths that were not formalised and registered we are assisting them with registrar of companies, with that we are increasing the number of youths that can be assisted and contribute to national processes and development.
The Youth Relief Fund is a facility that was availed by the Government to help youth businesses and associations that were affected by the Covid-19 lockdown condition.
The fund is being administered by the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation through its arm, the Zimbabwe Youth Council.
Any Zimbabwean between the ages of 18 to 35 can be regarded as a youth.