$17 million youth relief fund set up

Kirsty Coventry

A $17 million relief fund to support youth-led businesses and associations to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on their operations has been set up by Government.

The fund is being given as a grant and is meant to build capacity among youth-led businesses and registered youth organisations engaged in activities complementing the national taskforce’s relief efforts.

Such activities include manufacturing and distribution of protective materials such as face masks, sanitisers and soaps.

Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry said yesterday: “This relief fund targets youth enterprises and registered youth associations. To qualify for the grant, associations or enterprises owned by Zimbabwean youths must have been existing and operating for a period of at least six months to a year before the lockdown.

“They must also demonstrate how their activities have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Their business must have a formalised structure complying with the statutory requirements governing that sector.

“They must demonstrate innovation, value addition, and or beneficiation and enterprises helping combating Covid-19 will be given priority in the release of funds. The association or enterprise must be able to produce a bank statement dating back six months to a year prior to the lockdown.”

Minister Coventry said applicants should not have benefited from other Government Covid-19 relief facilities.

The principals should be youths aged between 18 and 35 and should be citizens of Zimbabwe who reside and operate in the country. “They must show proof of place of operation, for example, Zesa bill or water bills,” said Minister Coventry.

She said disbursement of funds to qualifying beneficiaries shall be a once off payment.

“I wish to assure the nation that mechanisms are in place to ensure that the fund will be administered in an open and transparent manner as well as to ensure that all Zimbabwean youths who meet the above set criteria will have an equal chance of benefiting from the programme,” said Minister Coventry.

“No application will be turned away. In fact, those that do not qualify under this fund will be referred to other facilities such as the social protection and arts sector support scheme.

“The application process involves various online platforms mainly because of the precautionary measures put in place to avoid further spreading of the corona virus. Youths who fail to access our online platforms can liaise with our provincial contact persons for onward submission to the head office and it will be a continuous process.” – Herald