Creating more business opportunities for women and youth in South West State of Somalia

Entrepreneurship training in Dinsoor and Xudur

When Bashir Mohamed Noor, a 35-year-old father of four who lives in Dinsoor in the  South West State of Somalia heard from a friend that SOS and its partner MMC was rolling out a free entrepreneurship training in the town, he did not have a second thought. Bashir who is physically challenged applied for the training and to his surprise was selected.

I met all the selection criteria and was selected to benefit from the training. The situation was different from our previous experience where anyone with a disability was not allowed to participate in any social or economic activities. I learnt that the agencies implementing this project had given a priority to the people with disabilities as the design of their program was to include all groups of the society.”

In Xudur, Habiba runs a grocery store and is the sole breadwinner for her family.  She too heard about the training being offered by SOS and MMC. She had received no prior business skills training and was struggling to manage her business effectively “I didn’t know my profit and loss because I could not read or write anything. I have never thought of expanding my business and the only thing I was always worried about was not to lose my initial investment which is the startup capital…”

 The rates of unemployment are high in Somalia, including in South West State.   In districts such as Dinsoor and Xudur, job opportunities are limited, with the main employment sectors in livestock, agriculture and general trade. Movement of goods and people across the region is limited by Al Shabaab. Self-employment opportunities are also restricted, with access to financing and marketing, as well as limited business skills knowledge making for a challenging business environment.

The Somalia Stability Fund has been implementing technical vocational education and enterprise based vocational training in Baidoa, Barawe, Dinsoor and Xudur in South West State. The interventions worked on both the supply and demand side by identifying gaps and demand in the job market and increasing youth employability through technical skills and financial literacy.

A midline assessment of the project found that young people in Dinsoor and Xudur saw a clear role for programmes such as SOS in supporting peace and stability in their districts. As one young man in Xudur explained, “most often a jobless young man will tell you, I am hopeless because I can’t start a family and feed myself, what if I just become a member of Al Shabaab?”. The importance of women’s employment was also highlighted, as this women from Xudur explained, “we are among the highest number of beneficiaries [of SOS] and some of us are…mothers. A mother is someone who takes everything she earns home, she uses it to educate her children and feed them. She won’t take her toil elsewhere, like a man who squanders his wealth on chewing khat”.

With the support received, Habiba has been able to turnaround a struggling business. She now knows how to calculate her monthly business turnover, has improved her stock control and is tracking the credit she gives out to customers. Habiba now has a clear vision on how to expand her business.

Meanwhile, in Dinsoor, Bashir came top of his class. Following the training, Bashir developed a business plan which was presented to SOS to request for a loan to start his own business.  He is very hopeful that he will receive positive feedback regarding his loan application.

The job club in Baidoa

Sometimes accessing a job isn’t just about lack of technical skills. It can also be about lack of soft skills, such as writing a convincing resume, completing a good interview,  or knowing where to apply for jobs. In Baidoa, SSF is supporting a job club, housed in the University of Southern Somalia implemented by Adeso with it’s partners Ashley Community Housing (ACH) and Birmingham University. The job club has provided support and training to 150 job seekers so far.

One of the beneficiaries of the job club is Honey Mustaf Hassan, a university graduate who received guidance on drafting her curriculum vitae and completing a successful interview. Despite graduating with a bachelor’s degree, Honey struggled to impress potential employers and had been looking for employment for more than three years.  The Job Club helped her apply for several positions including two with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Finance of South West State. She succeeded in both interviews and was offered both positions. Delighted with her new-found success Honey said ““I never had those skills before, but after the training, I managed to get a job as a Finance Officer in the Ministry of Finance. The support from the Job Club also helped me boost my self-esteem and become a motivated and competent person.

The job club has been implemented in close collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Commerce as well as the South West Chamber of Commerce. The project was seen as a core priority of the South West State administration to roll-out in response to what they consider to be extensive youth radicalisation in the area. As the Baidoa local administration representative explained, “Youth employment is a key issue in the entire country, and it’s sad to see our young men and women choose to go on dangerous journeys to Europe or even join Al Shabaab due to the frustrations they get after finishing colleges. We feel this project will be a game-changer”.

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