Skills training leads to entrepreneurship in Somalia

by Abdurahman Ahmed Derie & Ariel Delaney

19-year-old Farduus Mohamed Ali Shire lives in Hingalool village with her mother, father, four brothers and five sisters. Hingalool is situated in Sanaag, Northern Somalia; a region with a history of recurrent droughts. Due to its geographical location, it is also prone to floods. The volatile conditions make it very hard for families to maintain their livestock holdings, and the village now houses a high number of pastoralist families, forced to give up their livelihoods because of the conditions. As the population goes up, access to livelihood opportunities and resources goes down. Hingalool suffers from a lack of adequate health care facilities, poor infrastructure and low levels of education. Despite the conditions, most households rely on income from pastoral activities to meet their household needs.

Before Adeso’s intervention, Farduus and her family depended on her father’s wages from laboring in Hingalool village. It was not a secure livelihood as bookings were sporadic, so the family also relied on gifts from relatives to meet their basic needs. Farduus used to attend primary school until her family’s financial circumstances forced her to drop out.

In 2010, Adeso partnered Save the Children UK to implement the Social Safety Nets (SSN) project. The intervention targeted vulnerable households in northern regions of Somalia with the aim of reducing community vulnerability to food insecurity. SSN targeted 2200 households: 1200 for monthly unconditional cash relief payments and 1000 for skills training/cash grants to start small businesses.

Handicraft skills training classes were a key part of the SSN initiative, and when Adeso proposed classes in Hingalool village, Farduus saw an opportunity to help her family. Community members were targeted using Adeso’s unique inclusive community based targeting (ICBT) approach, leading to a village relief committee (VRC) formed by community members. The VRC then identified and selected skills trainees from amongst the most vulnerable community members.

Farduus was selected for training classes to establish basic tailoring skills. At the end of the course, participants received a start-up grant of $380 USD to market their newly acquired skills. Farduus used some of the money to purchase a sewing machine, and now serves customers daily with a fully operational business, “Deq’s Tailor Business”, located in Hingalool’s village center. Farduus has now covered her outlay costs and is making enough profit to support her family. By increasing her household income, she can now purchase food, milk and cover water expenses for her family. Farduus aims to continue promoting her new business and is confident that “Deq’s” will grow in the future.

SSN activities in Hingalool ended in February 2013. However, Adeso is transitioning to phase II of the SSN intervention to continue addressing the needs of the region. SSN II specifically targets communities identified as those most vulnerable to food insecurity within Sool Plateau and Hingalool village is just one of the communities that will be targeted.