Businesswomen boost the economy of Somalia

9 Nov 2017

Businesswomen boost the economy of Somalia

Mogadishu - Luul Mohamed Osman was an established hotelier before the civil war broke out in Somalia in 1991, forcing her to seek refuge in Italy. She returned to her country five years ago, to pick up the pieces and start afresh.

“In 2012, I moved to Somalia. I was supposed to change my life and stabilize my life here in my country since I was tired of living outside Somalia,” says Luul, who was running a popular eatery and guest house in the Zoobe area of Mogadishu. On 14 October of this year, a major bomb blast destroyed her business.

Luul is one of the many Somali women who have overcome the odds and become breadwinners for their families by establishing businesses that also provide employment to thousands of Somalis.

The hotelier, whose spirit has not been broken despite the setback, is busy putting finishing touches to another hotel and catering establishment that she is set to launch along a well-known street in Mogadishu.

“Now it is running but it’s still not open because I’m worried to give it a name. To put here a sign with the business attracts risks. It is very hard and problematic to work in these conditions,” Luul explains.

The place is bustling, especially at lunch and dinner times, as it offers a variety of Italian dishes.

“There’s food, there are beverages, on Thursday night there’s music. We should make the people happy because people here (in Mogadishu) have money but they don’t have something to distract them. They don’t have anywhere to go,” Luul says.

Luul is optimistic, despite the adversity and distress caused by insecurity in her city.

“We have to go on, we don’t stop. Whatever happens, since you’re alive, since you’re strong, we work. No problem,” she adds, referring to recent attacks in Mogadishu that took the lives of relatives and close friends.

Across the city, another woman has turned her taste for high quality fruits and vegetables into a booming business venture.

Hersio Abdulle Siad founded an enterprise that packs and distributes fresh product to Mogadishu markets. She started her business from scratch in 2003, with savings from her previous employment. 

“Other than advice from relatives and friends, nobody gave me money,” says Hersio. The company now specializes in selling yellow ripe bananas, a popular fruit in Somali cuisine.

While her initial clients were hotels, restaurants and cafes in Mogadishu, Hersio has grown the business to include women who sell bananas on the streets.  The business has flourished, employing now 20 permanent staff and another 70 during peak seasons, and using four vehicles to deliver the staple fruits. 

Hersio has big plans for her company.

“My plan is to own a farm for my company.  I can train my staff so that I can produce a clean product. I can produce the famous yellow Somali banana,” the determined businesswoman adds. 

UNSOM is mandated to assist the Federal Government of Somalia to advance gender and women, peace and security agenda issues and promote women’s empowerment.