Business startup grants empower youth in IDP camps in Dollow

Thanks to the stable income he is now getting from his new clothing business, Nuur Adan Mohamed, 36, has been able to move his family out of the IDP camp in Dollow, southern Somalia, where they have been living for the past seven years.

Nuur was awarded a $2,000 grant through Dalbile Youth Initiative business start-up programme. He had no regular income before and is now making $10-15 a day from his business to support his family of eight.

“My family weren’t eating regular meals, if we had lunch we’d miss out on dinner or breakfast. We thank God that’s no longer the case. I have young children who don’t eat solid food and when there was no milk we had to mix sugar with water to feed them. Now we’re able to buy whatever we need,” Nuur said.

He and his family moved out of Kabasa camp in Dollow, Gedo region, into a rental house nearby paying $50 a month. Aid in the camp was minimal and Nuur was scraping by earning $3 on construction sites when jobs were available.

“I did odd jobs, and we just waited for aid. We’d get something one day and miss out the next – but today I’m a businessman with a shop. We are no longer living in those conditions, we have a source of income,” he said.

Nuur and his family were displaced from Qansah-dhere district in Bakool region in 2015 by drought that killed most of his 240 goats and 63 cows. He is planning to use his profits to invest in expanding the business by introducing food items as well.

Another grantee of the Dalbile initiative this year is Mohamed Ali Hassan, 24, who opened a printing shop in January jointly with a female former classmate. They saw that printing services were needed in the camp and are now averaging $15-20 in profit that has significantly improved their families’ lives.

Mohamed lives with his parents and is pleased to be able to help supporting his nine siblings.

“I was a burden to my parents, but now I’m happy to be helping my brother and sister getting their education. They are in primary school and I pay $14 for their tuition,” he said.

Education centres are among his main customers for bulk printing and other related services.

“I was just a displaced person who couldn’t even walk in the city and do basic things like sit in a restaurant! But now I thank God since all that changed. I’m now in the market and I get to follow up on market trends. People know me now. Many school teachers contact me whenever they need something printed. They send the students to my shop, they’re all my customers,” Mohamed stated.

Mohamed’s business income has given his family their first stability after a decade of uncertainty. After drought killed their 300 goats, they moved to Ethiopia as refugees and returned to Somalia in 2017 when they joined the IDP camp in Dollow.

The chairman of the youth association in Dollow district, Barre Mohamed, was a member of the assessment panel that judged the applications for the start-up grants. Among the applicants were 105 secondary school students who submitted business proposals.

Barre said the process was highly competitive with many good business ideas being pitched. This year 43 young men and five young women from the camp were awarded grants that were funded by UNFPA.

“The Dalbile programme was an open competition. The youth participated openly, and were selected based on their knowledge, attitudes, and business acumen. People are different, that is how we selected them,” Barre noted.

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