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.
The terrain is well suited for grazing livestock as well as for growing hay for fodder--an essential part of Somaliland’s multi-million dollar livestock trade, which accounts for over 60 percent of GDP.
Having invested his savings, and with no commercial banks in Somaliland, Hussain wondered how he might grow the business. Then, in January 2012, he learned of USAID’s Partnership for Economic Growth’s grants competition.
Hussain developed a detailed business plan, which passed the Partnership’s rigorous tests, and won a grant for $45,000. He invested $251,000 of his own funds.
Today, Hussain employs hundreds of seasonal workers, benefiting Beer and nearby communities. He plans to steadily generate more employment for both casual and full-time, skilled workers in the coming years.
Hussain’s efforts bring benefits beyond the business. “We believe in creating community cohesion,” he says. “Once we harvest the grasses, we let local pastoralists graze on the land, because it brings us closer to our neighbors.”
USAID’s Partnership for Economic Growth program, a $13 million initiative, supports stabilization by investing in the local economy and strengthening the livestock, farming and energy sectors.
Last updated: August 22, 2013