Lakay Sheikh Abdirahman, 43-year-old mother of nine, is the proud owner of a thriving wholesale business supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to 32 women-owned stalls in Dollow market, in southern Somalia’s Gedo region.
She arrived in Dollow in 2012 as a desperate displaced person, with no possessions of her own, after fleeing her hometown of Dinsor, where her family’s entire herd of 40 cows was killed in the severe drought.
Lakay’s journey to success has been tough. Her first business venture was collecting and selling firewood outside the IDP camp where the family was staying to earn cash for food, as what they were being given in the camp was not enough. Later on, she became more adventurous.
“I was one of the first people to hawk bananas around town, selling them one by one to people on the street,” she told Radio Ergo.
Lakay’s children are still enrolled in free schools in the IDP camp. Her focus now is to save enough to build her family a permanent stone house in the town centre, which would indicate that they are no longer IDPs. Like many who arrived here from other regions, integration seems to be an achievable ambition.
Mahamud Abdi Mohamed, a local economist, told Radio Ergo that many IDPs have integrated into the host community and are transforming the local economy in this town on Somalia’s borders with Ethiopia and Kenya.
Business activities in the IDP camp vicinity sometimes appear to be more vibrant than elsewhere.
“When you look at the extent of the goods exchanged and the traffic within the camps, you wonder if this is the commercial hub of the town!,” he commented.
There are close to 10,000 IDP families living in Dollow district. Many of the youth, who are now leading various businesses in town, came as IDPs when they were children.
Guled Shafi’I Mahamud, 24, arrived in 2012 as a teenager when his family was displaced by drought in Bay region. He enrolled in technical training courses offered at the IDP camp and now earns a good income as a mobile phone repair technician and trader.
“I’ve learned how to repair all kinds of mobile phones and that skill has changed my live,” he said.
He has his own phone shop providing repairs and selling new phones.
Abdiqadir Adan Ali, 27, came to Dollow six years ago after his parents and siblings were displaced by drought in Bardale, Bay region.
He worked for many years at a small canteen, making and selling samosas, earning $2.5 a day. He saved most of his money to open a clothing shop and later expanded as a wholesale business.
“I started small and thank God I’m now the owner of a large and stable business,” Abdiqadir told Radio Ergo.
The business employs a number of young people from the camps and supports his parents and relatives, as he starts his own family as well.
Source: Radio Ergo