By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – 59 local traders carry the arduous task of self-growth but contribute to the creation of jobs and benefit the people of Somaliland.
The 59 traders who will share a total grant of $4 assumed the task after they were announced as the first beneficiaries of the Somaliland Business Fund-SBF at a colourful ceremony in Hargeisa officiated by the minister of planning Dr. Sa’ad Ali Shire assisted by the CEO of the fund Mr. Dennis Dunn and the World Bank’s Michael Ennman.
The Somaliland Business Funds set up in association with the World Bank, the UK government and Danish International Development agency-DANIDA) aims to mobilize the creative energy and resources of the private sector to strengthen private enterprises, increase incomes and create new sustainable employment opportunities and thereby improve the lives of Somalilanders.
While congratulating the 59 beneficiaries who are equitable representative of traders from all the regions of the country, Dr Shire urged diligence since they are the mirror in which the SBF partners shall base future grants.
“We began the project in September 2012 and received over 1,750 applications and after extensive review have determined that 59 applicants qualify for the grants at the present time. It is imperative that at least 40% of the grants are earmarked for the regions outside the capital, Hargeisa,” briefed Dennis Dunn; Head of the Somaliland Business gave a brief background on the programme as he revealed that the beneficiaries include a fair representation of women and youthful entrepreneurs which is a precondition of the grant.
According to Mr. Michael Ennman from the World Bank the implementation of the Somaliland Business Fund and the awarding of the first grants is a step in the right direction said he, “With over $4 Million US Dollars available, we hope that the fund will benefit the traders, contribute to the creation of jobs and benefit the people of Somaliland”
Participants at the SBF ceremony included the awardees, government ministers, legislators from the two chambers of parliament, merchants and traditional and political leaders among others.
The 59 to receive the SBF grant become the second batch of citizens following the now in implementation program by the USAID funded Partnership for Economic Growth which has so far assisted 13 entities from the private sector.
The Somaliland Business Fund (SBF) aims to mobilize the creative energy and resources of the private sector to strengthen private enterprises, increase incomes and create new sustainable employment opportunities and thereby improve the lives of Somalilanders.
Since 1991 Somaliland has established a democratic state, education and health systems. Somalilanders have proven themselves to be enterprising people and urban-centered business such as telecom has experienced phenomenal growth in the last 20 years.
Nevertheless, challenges remain such as a fast growing population, and high rates of unemployment and illiteracy. There are also issues surrounding environmental degradation and food security. Citizens need sustained economic growth to reduce poverty levels.
A well-developed private sector has an important role to play – it provides investment, employment, livelihoods and vital services. The country has great potential – it is strategically located with a long coast line, access to ports, an excellent international trade position and investment opportunities in agribusiness, fisheries, meat, salt, financial services mining and oil & gas.
The Somaliland diaspora is a major source of productive investment in the country but the private sector is constrained by inadequate infrastructure, high cost of fuel and energy, lack of access to credit and banking facilities etc. At the enterprise level, competiveness is hampered by producers’ lack of market know-how and/or modern machinery and equipment, and workers lack of technical skills.
As a result, consumers make do with low quality, limited range or high priced products.
The Fund will help businesses to upgrade and strengthen their capacity, to improve their productivity or become more innovative. This will not only be good for the business but also have wider developmental impact as benefits will flow to other suppliers/producers in the sector or value chain, as well as workers and consumers.