Somalilandsun – To many people outside Africa, the word ‘Somalia’ conjures up all sorts of international media-inspired nightmare scenarios: failed state, civil war, lawlessness, collapsed social, health and economic systems. What many people do not realise is that there is another country called ‘Somaliland’, which is a completely separate country from the Somalia that has been consumed by wars and civil strife for the past three decades, and from which it declared independence in May 18 , 1991.
In Somaliland, there is none of the horror stories associated with its neighbour to the south. Self-declared independent since 1991, the country has known nothing but peace and a functioning civil service. It’s also striving to become an economic powerhouse of sorts, with booming growth in virtually all key sectors.
What is it that is driving the prosperity in this island in a region torn apart by decades of political and social upheavals?
No single factor is responsible, but peace, stability, a patriotic citizenry, and functioning civil service have all contributed. But arguably the most important development has been the return of hundreds of Diaspora ‘Somalilanders’ who have abandoned life in the West to set up business in the country.
Mr Mahamed-Guled, is one such returnee. After several years living in the West , Guled decided to follow his dream of playing a part in the economic development of his ancestral land. In Somaliland he and a small team of young people floated the Guul Group, a commercial conglomerate that runs a range of services – from agro-processing to transport and logistics, construction, fisheries, import/export, and business consultancy.
Mahamed has also proven his mettle in the business world. Last year, he won the 5th Somaliland Community Achievement award in the business category for 2013 at a colourful and high profile event at Brunel University in London. The award was in recognition of his role in spearheading the public issue of Pontus Marine Ltd shares worth $5m, which was and remains the first of its nature in Somaliland within the very short span of less than four months.
From their base in Hargeisa, Guulgroup is blazing a trail that other Diasporans look set to follow. Their key aim is to drive foreign direct investment into Somaliland, but they are also keen to support home-grown business ventures, especially business start-up. The services offered by the company includebusiness planning, development, strategy, project management, event management, marketing, branding and training.
Guul Group provides investment opportunities with the aim of bringing and working with foreign investment and strategic alliance partners on projects in Somaliland, Somalia and other Horn of Africa markets. Given the peaceful environment, and a highly-motivated population backed up an excellent shipping infrastructure, the potential for Somaliland to outdo regional neighbours as an emerging business hub is clear.
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