Kismayo, Somalia: Approximately 70 Somali businesswomen participated this week in a forum to support
access to finance for women-led enterprises, attended by esteemed ministers from the Jubaland Ministry of
Women, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Fishery and Marine Resources, and Ministry of Trade
and Commerce. The event provided an opportunity for women to hear about high-potential business models in
growing economic sectors, hear from successful women entrepreneurs, and connect with financial service
providers as well as technical experts from the Growth, Enterprise, Employment, and Livelihoods (GEEL) project.
U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Y. Yamamoto said, “The United States is proud to support GEEL, which is
leading the way in economic development and job creation. Access to financing, tools for business
improvements, and hard work are key. Somali women entrepreneurs can start-up and scale-up their businesses
and improve livelihoods for themselves and their communities.”
Encompassing value chains with huge growth potential in Somalia, the forum prioritized business models that
are proven successful and likely to attract women, whose participation in formal and informal economies is
essential for long-term economic development. An important aspect of growth for women-led businesses is
access to financial products, like microloans, that boost production and lead to integration of innovative
technologies and production of high-quality products. GEEL is working with local banks and finance providers to
remove barriers for women to access finance. Via panel discussions and networking sessions, representatives
of the financial sector offered participants financial information and tools for business growth. They included
Dahabshil Bank, MicroDahab, Amal Bank, and Kaah International Microfinance Solutions (KIMS).
The event included discussion groups led by experts in the livestock (meat and dairy), fish, and agriculture
(vegetables and fruits) sectors. Experts encouraged women to develop business concepts and begin working
on competitive business plans using planning tools provided by the project.
Also in attendance were representatives from local women’s associations, community elders, and established
women entrepreneurs who inspired participants regarding business strategies and the ways in which USAID,
through the GEEL project, had supported the expansion and development of their businesses. Among them
was Hersio Abdullah, founder of SomFresh Fruit and Vegetable Company, who said, “I sold my gold to
continue my business. If you don’t invest in yourself, it’s hard for others to invest in you. Somali women have
many opportunities, but it has to start with ourselves first. You can scale up your business if people see you as
responsible and ready.”
This is the third Access to Finance for Women in Business event organized by the GEEL project. Previous forums
were held in Hargeisa and Mogadishu in 2018.
The event 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 Somalia. 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.
For Immediate Release
Sunday, March 24, 2019
The Growth, Enterprise, Employment & Livelihoods (GEEL) Project
Contact: +252 (0) 61 370 7660 / firstname.lastname@example.org