Hargeisa, Somaliland: More than 60 businesswomen participated on Monday 27 August in a forum for access to finance, opened by esteemed Minister of Investment Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Mohamoud (Awad). The event facilitated direct access for women in business to finance and service providers, as well as to GEEL investment, agriculture, livestock, food, and renewable energy experts.
Encompassing value chains with huge growth potential in Somaliland, the forum prioritized industries likely to attract women, who are important and long-standing participants in formal and informal economies. “Women in general don’t really have access to funds, and each has her own needs,” said Asma Rashid, forum participant and owner of Askar Farms. “Some need to expand their businesses. I’m here because I want to develop my farm.” According to Shukri Jama of the Somaliland Women’s Veterinary Association, “Women veterinarians are investing in technology to help livestock and dairy producers improve animal health and nutrition.”
Showing his support for Somaliland’s businesswomen, Minister Ahmed said, “Women are behind every success [in Somaliland]. Downtown, more than 50 percent of businesses and micro-businesses are owned by women, [who] play a huge role in Somaliland’s development.”
Representatives of the financial sector in Somaliland included Dahabshil Bank, Premier Bank, MicroDahab MFI and Kaah International Microfinance Solutions (KIMS), who offered participants important financial tools for business growth. According to CEO Mohamed Abdirahman Moalim, 50 percent of KIMS microfinance clients are women. “The forum is important for women business owners to connect to finance providers face-to-face,” he says. “Empowering women is important because they are the foundation of the economy.” Swedish organization Forum Syd spoke about interest in prioritizing financial support to women-owned businesses, especially where there are existing ties to Swedish suppliers, customers, and members of the diaspora community.
Established equipment and service providers also attended the forum, including Golis Energy, Horn Gardens, Kaafi and Solargen, who made presentations and hosted booths at the event’s “marketplace,” where they interacted with businesswomen and discussed support ranging from solar technologies to climate-smart agriculture. Thanks to strong attendance at the forum, businesswomen across Somaliland will enjoy valuable gains towards business financing and expanded networks for future enterprise growth.
The forum was facilitated by the Growth, Enterprise, Employment & Livelihoods (GEEL) Project, a USAID-funded initiative that works with government partners and the private sector to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Somaliland. The project builds the capacity of internal investors with a focus on value chains conducive to participation by demographics marginalized from pursuing economic opportunities, especially women and youth. GEEL has so far reached hundreds of women in diverse value chains, including livestock, fishing and agriculture, and energy, supporting milk traders, fish retail saleswomen, engineers, farmers, and businesswomen.
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