With a large family depending on her earnings, Fatuma Suleban has struggled. “I used to sell meat on the street – with no shade,” she says. “I would often move around all day in search customers.”
In 2009, Hamsa Haji Hussain returned from the United Kingdom to the small town of Beer in Somaliland to manage over 3,000 hectares of farmland inherited from his father. He had earned a degree in business administration in the U.K. and started an enterprise there.
“But I always knew I was going to come back home and follow in my father’s footsteps,” says Hussain. When Hussain first saw his land, he was shocked at the contrast with England’s lush countryside. “But once the rain fell, I saw the river flow and realized the potential,” he says.
Abdirisaq Noor saw a fundamental problem with Somaliland livestock: branding. Noor was not referring to marking livestock with a hot iron, but the marketing of Somali livestock.
He held a piece of paper to his chest and tried to explain what he had drawn: a painted wall where he used to sit and sniff glue, and a restaurant where he begged for food. “They used to kick us away and pour hot water on us,” said 12-year-old Abdi Omar Yusuf.
When Qani Abdi Alin and her two friends bought their first sewing machine in 2009, none of them knew how to sew. They paid $160 for an instruction book and peered at the diagrams since the instructions were not in Somali or English. The tailoring business in Somaliland is dominated by men, but Alin and her colleagues saw an opportunity. “We identified a market for certain women’s clothing,” says Alin. “We thought ‘Why do we have to look for a job? Why can’t we generate our own employment?’”
Last updated: January 24, 2014