Amina Mohammed is a 30 year-old ice water seller, who does her trading activities mostly at Nima, Mammobi and Mallam Atta markets. She is a single mother with three children.
She hails from Sandema in the Builsa District in the Upper East Region, and lives in Nima, one of the biggest Zongo communities in the Greater Accra Region.
Amina’s 15 years stay in Accra has been confronted with challenges like homelessness, poverty and all manner of abuse.
Her dream is to become a beautician. She had the opportunity to learn the skill about six years ago, but could not put it work, due to lack of financial support to establish a shop and buy tools.
Hope was restored in her life when she took the decision to register with Zongo Empowerment and Entrepreneurial Development (ZEED) to do refresher skills training, since after six months, start-up capital and tools would be given to all the beneficiaries.
Zongos are poor communities that have been steeped with poverty, diseases, and little or no
They are often tagged as violent-prone zones, since the majority of their youths are idle, and without jobs to keep them busy.
To arrest these challenges, the government, through the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneur Development Agency (GYEEDA), has established ZEED to bring hope to all the Zongo communities to improve their living standards and alleviate poverty.
The National Coordinator, Nurudeen Mohammed, at a media tour of the centres last week Thursday, indicated that the government was committed to helping empower youth in the Zongo communities to become self-employed, and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
‘When you take a critical look at all Zongo communities, one thing that stands out is the cycle of poverty. Majority of the youth who are energetic, have no skills, either through education or vocational training, and are, therefore, finding ways and means to put body and soul together to survive in this world. This phenomenon is through no fault of theirs, as it has been a generational thing,’ he stressed.
He explained that beneficiaries are given the chance to choose modules such as hairdressing, fashion designing, catering, carpentry, IT hardware and construction, and would be attached to skills training centres in their vicinities.
Although, the total cost of the programme was not revealed, the beneficiaries, according to the Coordinator, are also entitled to a monthly allowance for the period of their training.
‘ZEED was not only going to provide beneficiaries with only raw skills, but also teach and empower them on how to access loan and international markets with the products when they up their businesses,’ he stressed.
What distinguishes ZEED from other Zongo poverty intervention programme is that has established offices in the communities, so individuals can walk in and register, with the Greater Accra Region having four points, namely Abossey Okai, Madina, Nima and Ashaiman.
According to Nurudeen, the programme has targeted 10,000 youth across the 230 Zongo communities in the country within the next two years, and has registered 1,964 people as at the last quarter of 2012, and 800 since the beginning of this year.
Mr. Mohammed noted that following the massive success of the programme in the capital, plans were underway to extend it to the other regions, especially the Ashanti. ‘ZEED will open 20 offices in all 230 Zongo communities across the ten regions in the country before the end of the year.’
He also encouraged youth from all walks of life to register with the programme, since it had no political, tribal and religious colour attached.