By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The Somaliland Business Fund does not benefit successful grant applicants based on gender but on merit and pursuant to applications that meet criteria.
This is according to the SBF team leader Mr. David Mitchell as told to with Somalilandsun during an interview at his Hargeisa offices where he also revealed that Round II grants disbursement shall see more regional applicants awarded as opposed to RI of last year that saw a majority of successful grantees pooled from within the capital Hargeisa and its Environs.
“There was an acknowledged need to improve geographical coverage from that achieved in round 1 thus In round 2, increased efforts have been made to reach out to as many parts of the country as possible to create an awareness of SBF and its applications process through ‘SBF road show’ information sessions” said the SBF team leader who has been in charge for five weeks now.
The SBF road shows that saw prospective applicants reached ensued with related outreach activities in the following regions: West-Borame Wajale and Gabile; West Central – Hargeisa, East Central and East-Borame, Las Anod and Erigavo and North –Berbera.
“As a result, the geographical coverage of the round 2 shortlisted candidates are as follows: Hargeisa 38% (west central); Berbera 11% (north coastal), Borame 7% (west); Eastern urban settlements 17% (inc. Ainabo, Erigavo, Heis, Las anod, Las Qoray, Maid, Oog) and 12% scattered applicants” revealed Mitchell while informing that training sessions have also been conducted for not only the successful applicants but those who failed to make the shortlist too.
According to Mitchell who hails from Britain and very comfortable with his stay in Somaliland so far where he hopes to help enhance economic growth from bottom up, a number of those applicants who missed out on RI & II interviewed so far have in actual fact improved the way they manage their business through adopting pre-application criteria put in place by the Fund whose main donors are the World Bank and Danish government.
Said he, “During a visit to Borame a unsuccessful applicant has managed to increase the number of employees from 4 to 20 within a short period of one year through adopting SBF criteria’s thus enhancing his perception of his business better and to his advantage”
On more interaction with the public the SBF is currently updating its Website as prelude to availing more information online especially as pertains to business innovations and how to change them from dreams and into reality.
Another important element of the new novelty being put in place at the SBF by Briton Mitchell is ensuring that successful business share their experiences and knowledge with others through profiling the success and sharing them at the SBF official site and other channels.
“Profiling successful business will allow somalilanders everywhere to improve themselves through information about those who have succeeded and willing to share their experiences”
Accordingly the first profile is on SAAFI CAMEL MILK which was established in 2009 in Hargeisa by Dr Ismail Ali a local city orthopedic surgeon whose incorporation of medical training and family background has resulted in a successful and innovative business. (Read the profile later in this site)
The SBF team leader who celebrated his birthday in Hargeisa away from his four children and spouse back in England acknowledges that RII is utilizing lessons learned from RI was quick to point out “that despite all good intentions mistakes will occur in the SBF as in all other projects worldwide during pilot projects of which the SBF is yet to graduate from”
Among the lessons learned from RI was the need to establish a broader geographical coverage thus the outreach campaigns undertaken so far which have led to the increase in shortlisted applicants outside the capital city as well as assuage unsuccessful applicants understanding reasons behind their concepts having failed to make the shortlist or actual grant stage.
While not only concentrating with unsuccessful applicants but successful and non applicant entrepreneurs as well we have already undertake a number of feedback sessions with Round 2 Unsuccessful SBF Applicants and Grant Applicant Training as well as Consulting service providers and training Business skills training piloting as detailed on the SBF Factsheet
The new SBF Somaliland country boss David Mitchell who originally wanted to be a Doctor but ended up training a sociologists and notwithstanding his short stay in the country has managed to meet with prospective youthful entrepreneurs says that he is determined to point them in the right direction even without availing them grants since the Funds are limited thence not possible to assist all those needy.
For more visit http://somalilandbusinessfund.com