The Jobseeker Who Created Jobs!

    I recently met with Mohamed Abdikarem, a young entrepreneur born and raised in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Mohamed completed a BA in Business Administration, at the University of Hargeisa and later joined alternative BA in Nutrition at Addis Ababa Medical College. Over two years, Mohamed woke up every morning with the hope of landing a decent job. He submitted hundreds of his resumes to prospective employers. He was lucky once finding employment after two years of searching.

    According to the UN, over 70% of Somali’s population is under the age of 30. The country has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world — at 67 % and 6 out of every 10 Somalis intend to leave the country to pursue better economic opportunities elsewhere. However, since 2017 Mohamed was working with private sector companies like traders, pharmacies, etc. Despite been employed, Mohamed also believed that he can create his employment opportunity if he got a chance to do so.

    One day, while sitting with his friends over at a coffee shop, he grabbed a copy of a newspaper from a friend just to pass time, at the last glimpse, Mohamed saw the advert of call for entrepreneurs advertised by one of the leading local organization in SL/Somalia — Shaqodoon Organization. It was a nationwide initiative aimed to enable and inspire young Somalis to start businesses and create employment opportunities through a competitive process of awarding loans and other financial products. The investment size was ranging between US$10,000 to US$50,000 targeting young entrepreneurs in Somalia to startUp or expand businesses.

    In the SL/Somalia context, access to finance is the most challenging part when starting a business. You need to either finance yourself or get investment from your relatives. The option of getting a bank loan is extremely difficult with uncompromisable conditions and a very high-profit rate, sometimes up to 18% in two years payback period which young people can’t avoid. Mohamed was of the lucky 36 young entrepreneurs that have received $21,600 seed capital.

    With some mentoring support, Mohamed established a small sorghum milling factory in Hargeisa. The factory processes, packages, and distributes high-quality sorghum flour to Somaliland families. Locally milled grain is an important source of flour for households in Somaliland. Millet, sorghum, and maize are some of the common grains used for the preparation of Somali pancake which is consumed by most of the Somali families for morning breakfast, porridges, bread, and cookies. While sorghum traditionally been used for animal feed but now, sorghum crops are used for human consumption due to its nutritious elements.

    There is an opportunity for these grains to bring much more health benefits if they were fortified with vitamins and minerals. Flour fortification ensures the adequate intake of key vitamins and minerals and can have a significant impact on the prevention of nutritional anemia, preventing birth defects of the brain and spine.

    Mohamed’s father and mother have been involved in purchasing and selling raw sorghum in the past and this had Mohamed shark is business skills. When Mohamed started the factory in late 2017, the factory has increased its capacity from 100kgs Sorghum flour processing per day to 4000kgs of Sorghum flour per day in early 2019. The factory has strived to be a leading supplier of sorghum flour to the customers of the Hargeisa market and surrounding cities, these attributes have helped the factory in gaining an exceptional market share in Hargeisa and its surroundings.

    Mohamed’s factory employed 20 (90% youth) full and part-time employees ranging from machine operators to sales and marketing staff.
    Mohamed envisions by 2021 to build the brand of choice in the food industry across every household in SL/Somalia by delivering healthy, high-quality products, through efficient processing and competent workforce thus contributing to local development both of agricultural production and economic growth. Equally important, the factory has also encouraged Somaliland’s agricultural farmers particularly sorghum farmers to cultivate their farms as they now have a guaranteed buyer for any sorghum stock they harvest.

    With over 1,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases across both SL/Somalia, the pandemic has turned out to be a threat for every individual yet Mohamed’s is serving people by delivering packaged sorghum food. Finally, Somali youth are world-renowned for their entrepreneurial savvy yet are limited by a lack of access to finance, business know-how, and networks to realize their dreams.

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