Somalilandsun – Somaliland is a self-declared state of four million people, bordered by Ethiopia and Djibouti. The capital is Hargeisa, which is home to just over a quarter of the population, according to Somaliland government figures.
The World Bank sets Somaliland’s per capita GDP at US$347 – the fourth lowest in the world. Unemployment stands at 72% for men, 83% for women, and 75% for youth. However, Somaliland holds regular, democratic elections and, according to the BBC, is “one of the more stable, democratic places in the Horn of Africa.”
In light of this, Samir Dualeh, who is from Somaliland and currently lives in Sweden, writes about a few of the small businesses being established in Somaliland, the needs that they are meeting, and why he feels that they will be successful in creating jobs and income.
Though I am from Somaliland, I can’t claim to have knowledge of these new businesses beyond my own personal experience of them. But each of them – from a massage parlour to a pharmacy chain – has characteristics that seem to show that they will continue to grow and improve the lives of Somaliland’s residents – both their customers and the people they employ.
Five ambitious startups in Somaliland aim to scale their ventures with the even more ambitious goal of collectively improving the lives of more than four million people in Somaliland. Those companies face tough odds, but their biggest asset is the bold and passionate human capital within, firmly committed to a just social cause- sustainable development through responsible business.
The Somaliland start up ecosystem and entrepreneurial environment in general are ever growing despite global growth slowdown. There were a lot new startups that launched this year combining top class transparency and governance with a Somali rich cultural touch. I have identified 5 startups that grew at scorching rates and have the potential of continuing the trend for next year. Some are trying to transform the drug industry, some are attempting to conquer the well-regarded restaurants and some are retail companies. But what unites them all is the positive impact on their communities.
The Somaliland Food and Hospitality Sector has experienced substantial development with an average growth of 37% for the last 3 years. Modern facilities emphasizing on customer comfort preserve the colorful Somaliland culinary heritage. Those facilities represent a preferred choice for young and faced-paced people as they offer at their disposal affordable shelter, entertainment and communication. In Hargeisa restaurants create an environment in which the meal “restores” more than just their nutrients. Sultan restaurant is in fact not only a restaurant where you can go to and sit comfortably but will also give you a taste of Somaliland- delicious, distinctive, yours.
Although it’s not working at full capacity yet, the restaurant already has the compulsory requirements for any good international facility- quality food, relaxed atmosphere, a well decorated original theme as well as friendly and helpful staff. It is the ambition of the management of Sultan Restaurant to develop and further invest in a quick delivery service covering the capital Hargeisa. This is an intention shared by other renowned restaurants such as Laaleys Restaurant, who also find it necessary to strengthen their presence in that segment.
Hargeisa cuisine can be rambling into two major groups, based on the overall gourmet market. Some customers are in search for an enjoyable ceremonial meal in comfortable settings. Others are more prices sensitive and seek a tasty experience at the right price. Sultan Restaurant has the chance to offer both groups something to enjoy. It is exactly that what makes it helpful to the community- brining all Somalis and friends of Somaliland together, regardless of their background.
AYEYO “African Youth Enterprise and yield organization” is a social enterprise dedicated to empowering the Horn of Africa women and youth. It aims to realize their full potential through providing access to meaningful work opportunities by conducting education, entrepreneurship enterprise and development programs. In Somali “Ayeyo” means grandmother and every time this organization crosses my mind it constantly reminds me of my late hard working and well organized grandmother, not only by the name but also by the organizations purpose and hard work. It embodies her spirit and values. Every decision-making rested with HER head and she served as both the arbiter in disputes and the custodian of our family properties.
My ayeyo never had the chance of going to school nor getting a formal education, something she dreamed of doing. But she believed in the power of knowledge and educated all her children as well as empowered her daughters through education.
AYEYO was established with the sole purpose of reducing unemployment among Women and Youth, promoting entrepreneurship culture and sustainable economic growth.
Although Somaliland people are not familiar with what is the essence of a social enterprise, AYEYO can lead Somaliland youth en route to collective development through individual empowerment. In 2017 AYEYO is projected to further generate profit by tackling social problems and improving the lives of communities as well as the overall environment in Somaliland.
Chances for specialty retailers today “are unquestionably growing”, in Somaliland. But there is place for further leaps toward improvement, especially with regard to communicating their potential to the Somaliland future entrepreneurs. This can be a big business as it covers a broad range of medical segments, such as injury rehab, agony relief, relaxation, and health and wellness. Somaliland need to switch the Cilaaj prisons to massage palaces.
ORA RETAIL is selling massage and spa products and its sales policy is focused on offering the highest quality essential body products as well as a diverse selection of perfumes. ORA’s hair and body oils, scented soaps and cosmetics for both men and women, have greatly maximized consumer choice for their community. The store also has home aromas to compliment facials, manicure and pedicure while providing a professional head and foot massage service on spot in the store. The ORA massage experience is a wonderful way to relax, unwind and soothe the body and mind so you can achieve spiritual harmony- with yourself and Somaliland.
Honestly speaking, I had a foot massage in ORA and it turned out to be by far the best massage I have ever had in my life. The full body oil massage is just as great to get you out of the dynamics of today. ORA massages are halal as the person massaging you is of the same gender like yourself. If you need deep relaxation, then do stop by and visit ORA Retail. It’s located in Jigjigayare’s main road, opposite Sawahili and next to Sheeko Café.
Thousands of people across Somaliland are administering medication on a daily basis. At the same time thousands die each year from forged medications, such as poor quality antimalarial drugs. Illegal medicaments represent more than 60% of all medicines dispersed in Africa. Malaria drugs, tuberculosis pills, even oral contraceptives cannot be trusted.
ElmiMedic combats this setback by forming a protected supply channel with a verification for local pharmacies to buy only directly from manufacturers to guarantee a quality and safe patient purchase. This in effect creates a reliable source of high-quality drugs distribution in Somaliland. The startup enjoys a strong interest among other pharmacies in buying drugs with respect to its supply policy, essentially serving as an example for a responsible, open and reliable Somaliland business venture.
In Somaliland as elsewhere people often wait in a queue at the pharmacy to purchase prescribed medication. But at ElmiMedic you can just make a call and before the patient or his relative reaches the pharmacy their medicines are kept ready at the pharmacy for the respective called numbers, as they are referred to. This ensures a fast and quality service as simply all you have to do is, collect the medicine for that called number and make the payment. ElmiMedic can help the Somali region pharmaceutical companies access high-quality medications and become the first branded drug wholesaler in the region.
GoFar take pride in themselves for their ability to innovate, refresh, re-energize and to refocus Somaliland tourism. They are the first to create Insider Experiences; enabling their guests to appreciate various destinations they have long dreamed of, through genuine local experiences and new innovative destinations.
They started with the idea of reinventing Somaliland tourism. Each trip is carefully planned with suitable fares, times, and arrangements for travel planning are tailor made for each client depending on their specific requests. Building drom that, Gofar also focuses on accessibility, as it aims to meet the needs of anyone travelling to and from Somaliland through an easy to use online platform. GoFar offers an extensive variety of tour opportunities that will let everyone to experience Somaliland in ways that are exceptional from the Las Geel rock paintings and many non crowded and unspoiled beaches to the amazing Daalo hills and its rich environment. Discover Somaliland through Gofar- your gateway to the Horn of Africa.
Though each of these businesses is relatively small, each caters to a gap in the market, and has found success in the first months. Together, they are contributing to an ever more vibrant and diverse place to live, and improving the day-to-day quality of Somalilanders, expats, and soon, hopefully, tourists.
Samir Dualeh is a social entrepreneur and journalist with a background in economics and administration.