Selling tea leads to bigger things for Mogadishu entrepreneur

Hassan Nur Mohamed started out as a tea vendor selling cups of tea from a single flask under a tree in Mogadishu.

Now, 12 years later, he runs his own restaurant called Hassan-dhere that opened in June, employing five full-time and two part-time staff.

“When I started my business I had just one flask of tea and at first no one would buy the tea!” Hassan recalls.

“Then I became popular and I used to sell the flask in an hour or less. Nowadays, on a good day I can sell around 40-50 flasks of tea.”

Hassan, 35, invested $600 in his business and is making about $70 a day now. His restaurant sells tea, odkac (meat preserved in butter), and various locally grown food such as maize, beans and sorghum.

There is increased demand on Thursdays and Fridays, when he brings in additional staff to cook, serve, and wash up.

Hassan began a pharmaceuticals course at Green Hope University in Mogadishu in September 2021 and pays the $150 fees from his business. This is fulfilling an overdue ambition, as he completed secondary school 11 years ago but had no funding then to go to university.

As a father of nine, he has enrolled his two older daughters in Koranic school paying $10 in fees. He pays $50 rent for a three-room iron-sheet house. He and his family previously struggled to get one meal in a day but are now doing much better.

In Mogadishu, unemployment remains high among young people and businesses like this are creating opportunities for others to support their families and further their own education.

Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed, 18, started as a waiter at Hassan-dhere restaurant in August and has enrolled in a local private school learning mathematics and English.

“I’m working and studying, so I get to work at six in the morning and leave at 8:00 am for classes until noon. I continue at work till 11:00pm. I am working to support my education and my family,” he said.

Mohamed’s $150 earnings support his wife and two children and mean he no longer has to depend on relatives. He hopes to open his own business in the future, inspired by Hassan’s success from humble beginnings.

Abdihakim Ali Abdi, 21, began in August as a trainee barista and quickly picked up skills using the coffee machine. His $210 salary supports his parents and three siblings, who have no other income.

“I am the eldest in my family and the one working, I didn’t have a job before and was staying at home but now it’s good to be able to help my family,” he explained.

He completed secondary school in 2020 and lacked the finances to continue education. He is now saving to start university studies next year.

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