By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – An Economic Growth partnership between the US and Somaliland governments has been launched.
A grant worth $1m was awarded to13 Somaliland Small Market Entrepreneurs-SMEs during the launch of the Partnership for Economic Growth Programme-EGP at the Ambassador hotel in Hargeisa, which is funded by USAID.
According to Hon Abdirazak Khalif Ahmed the minister of commerce, the 13 beneficiaries were selected in a transparent manner after their business plan proposals were judged the best out of 292 applicants, Said he at the launch, “The selection were made by a team of internationals experts as per the agreement of the programme”
The 292 applications were submitted to EGP following a call for proposals it made in Somaliland where it was availed nationwide through media advertisements and SMS alerts that were send indiscriminately to all Telesom mobile phone subscribers.
As per the USAID/Somalia Consultant for the Partnership Fund Grants Program Ms Marybeth Mceever, the objective of $1m grant which is the first of its kind funded by the US is geared towards strengthening the Somaliland private sector and generates employment.
Said she, “The APS was issued as a public notice to ensure that all interested and qualified organizations have a fair opportunity to submit applications for funding”
Eligible organizations could include: Private companies, Local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Faith-based organizations (FBOs), Community-based organizations (CBOs), Academic institutions, Business / professional associations and/or a Consortiums of the above.
The Annual Program Statement-APS sought applicants with creative and effective approaches to strengthen the local private sector and generate employment. The Applications were to demonstrate success in managing cultural and political considerations in Somaliland as well as success in addressing the Partnership program’s development objectives. All applicants must contribute at least a 25% cost-share through cash or in-kind contribution.
There were six major criteria’s that were to be satisfied by the business proposals submitted namely:
• Economic growth impact: What are the expected impacts on employment and income; opportunities to improve employee skills; impact on women and youth; and increased markets for suppliers?
• Technical experience and technical feasibility: Does the applicant demonstrate a clear understanding of the subsector and/or proposed venture (including required capital and equipment, industry best practices, innovativeness, etc.)?
• Financial viability and cost effectiveness: Does the applicant have realistic business plan and clearly demonstrate that the funds requested cannot be obtained from other sources?
• Analysis of market supply and demand: Does the applicant demonstrate an understanding of the demand (customers, prices, etc.); supply (accessing local and imported materials, etc.); and competition in the market?
• Business management experience: Does the applicant(s) demonstrate strong experience as a business manager?
• Amount of cost-share contribution: The cost-share minimum is 25%, however preference will be given to cost share of more than the minimum 25%.
In this first stage, all applicants were required to submit a short technical concept paper no longer than five pages, consisting of a cover page, technical approach, and supporting information, that is specific, complete and concise.
Following the official launch of the program and the $1m grant award to the 13 SMEs the attention of those interested will now be turned from querying about who or which institution won the APS, to observing how the awardees achieve objectives while strategizing on other innovative business ideas thus strengthen local private sector and generate employment.
The USAID had in the past funded the Somaliland Youth Livelihood Project-SYLP which was geared towards availing beneficiary youths in Hargeisa, Burao, Las anod towns with job hunting skills. The SYLP with over 5000 beneficiaries was popular dubbed shaqodoon project and implemented by the Education Development Centre-EDC,