5 Somali entrepreneurs who dare to invest

News - 2018-02-16
They revolutionize dairy production, create sustainable paint and establish new platforms for online sales.
Samira Mohammad is first to produce cheese in Somalia.
Samira Mohammad is first to produce cheese in Somalia. Foto: Maurits Otterloo

Together with Business Sweden and Sida, Forum Syd supports Somali entrepreneurs who dare to invest in a market few other dare to touch.

Entrepreneurs can apply for support to their business ideas with clear human rights and sustainability objectives through the program SSBP (Swedish Somali Business Programme). Recently 42 entrepreneurs gathered to develop their ideas and share experiences. Here a five ambitious entrepreneurs who are part of the SSBP programme.

Samira Mohammad is first to produce cheese in Somalia.
Samira Mohammad is first to produce cheese in Somalia. Photo: Maurits Otterloo

Samira Mohammed, People2work, dairy production.
- It was such a wow-feel when I realized I was first on the local cheese and dairy market. It was during the drought that it hit me that we must make use of all available resources. Despite the meet consumption being high in Somalia there are actually very few who drink milk. I appreciate being able to mix in a Swedish perspective on the market in Somalia, to be able to run a company that also strengthens women’s opportunities and that has a well-founded environmental perspective.

Rhoda Elmi is a pharmacist and has previously been pharmacy manager in Gothenburg.
Rhoda Elmi is a pharmacist and has previously been pharmacy manager in Gothenburg. Photo: Maurits Otterloo

Rhoda Elmi, Elmimedic, import and distribution of medicine.
- Everything is optimized in Sweden. That is not the case in Somalia, but we have great potential and opportunity to grow. When I investigated the quality of medicine in Somaliland I realized that the pharmacies only sold medicine that is banned within the EU. Why shouldn’t Somalians have access to the same medicine as Swedes? Health is a prerequisite when building a sustainable society, especially for women and youth. I want to import medicine in order to improve the living standard in my country.

Bile Antar Huseyn wants to create tech opportunities for youth in Somalia
Bile Antar Huseyn wants to create tech opportunities for youth in Somalia. Foto: Agnes Nygren

Bile Antar Huseyn, Swedhorn, online sales.
- Somalia hasn’t come very far within the field of online sales. My plan is to start a version of Blocket in Somalia, but bigger. People will be able to sell their things through the service but wholesale retailers will also be able to use the platform to sell their goods. I already have a partner in Sweden and several contacts in Somalia to be able to carry through this idea. SSBP has taught me that there are many risks and that challenges are many but that you can’t give up.

Muna Magan holding her new product.
Muna Magan make use of local production to secure sustainability. Foto: Agnes Nygren

Muna Magan, Riyan Organics, skin care and cosmetics.
- To me the SSBP programme had nothing to do with the grant. It was about the exposure and connection to Business Sweden and Forum Syd. The training and mentorship has really benefitted my business. I employ female workers in my business because they are loyal, motivated and with their salary they provide for more people. Children to a woman who can support herself will go to school. It benefits the whole society.

Khadija Omar strives for both sustainability and job opportunities for women.
Khadija Omar strives for both sustainability and job opportunities for women. Photo: Maurits Otterloo

Khadija Omar, Rage 3K, paint production and sale.
- In Somalia women primarily operate in the informal economy and few are registered business women. I want to be a role model as a business manager and hire women to improve their lives. People in Somalia have to repaint their houses every three months since the paint doesn’t stick. Me and my brother, who is teaching chemistry at a university in Canada, will develop paint that is better suited to the Somali climate. It will save people time, money and be environmentally sustainable.  

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