Somalilandsun — U.S. Bank officials have confirmed that they have agreed to open an account with Dahabshil, a Minneapolis-based Money Service Business (MSB) serving Minnesota’s Somali community. With the account, the MSB will be able to transfer funds to families living in Somalia, 16 months after the last Minnesota bank ceased conducting the transactions. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population outside of the East Africa country.
“This is a very exciting day, not only for my business, and me but also for our entire community,” said Mohamed Nor of Dahab-shil. “I would like to thank U.S. Bank for continuing this conversation over the last year and for taking this important step today. Somali Minnesotans and our families look forward to beginning to restore the lifeline.”
The move follows more than a year of efforts by Somali Minnesotans to restore the critical lifeline to their families, many of whom depended on the funds to meet the basic necessities of everyday life. Community leaders have met with U.S. Bank officials many times, and this decision is the fruit of those negotiations. It is also the result of multiple rallies, protests and community meetings held throughout the Twin Cities as members of the Somali community were joined in solidarity with their neighbors.
“For people of faith, standing with the Somali community in this effort was a matter of justice,” said Pastor Paul Slack, President of ISAIAH. “A strong partnership has developed in the process, a partnership which I believe will continue to grow in the future.”
“For 16 months the Somali community in Minnesota, joined by Minnesotans for a Fair Economy and its partners, have taken to the streets, stood on the steps of our State Capitol and joined together in prayer in places of worship throughout the state,” said Abdirahman Muse, a union organizer with SEIU (the Service Employees International Union) and Somali community activist who helped organize many of the lifeline events. “Today’s announcement is the result of that tireless dedication to finding a solution. We now call on other banks, including Wells Fargo, to join U.S. Bank in working with us.”
Wells Fargo has been a popular banking choice for many Somali Minnesotans. Community leaders now plan to return to the bank and ask them to enter into dialogue about joining U.S. Bank in working with the MSBs to conduct transfers. Wells Fargo has conducted international wire transfers in the past, but has been unwilling to work with the Somali MSBs despite the humanitarian crisis. In May of 2011, hundreds of members of the Somali and Latino immigrant communities closed their bank accounts with Wells Fargo. Now many plan to open accounts with U.S. Bank and many more will move their money should Wells Fargo not take U.S. Bank’s lead.
“I applaud U.S. Bank for taking this important step,” said Somali community leader Sadik Warfa. “For the last year, we have asked them to not only listen to us, but to take action. Today, they have at last responded to our community’s pleading, opening up the lifeline to our homeland and our families. However, we will continue to remind U.S. Bank that the Somali community is part of the broader Minnesota community concerned with the bank’s role in the foreclosure crisis, payday lending practices and ensuring that everyone pays their fair share in taxes. We will continue to call on U.S. Bank to resolve these issues, joining with Minnesotans who stood with us to call on the bank to restore the lifeline to our families.”