Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Amina Ali, 32, is among a growing number of Somali women who are returning to Mogadishu to start their own businesses after years of living abroad.
Due to ongoing strife in Somalia, Ali left home in 2002 and ended up at the Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda, where she stayed for two years. In 2004, she was one of 500 Somalis who were given the opportunity to resettle in the United States.
While living in the state of Virginia, Ali experienced a lifestyle far different than the one she had in the refugee camp. She said she was able to earn a comfortable living and graduated from Northern Virginia Community College in 2009 with an associate degree in business administration.
She said she saved money for five years before returning to Somalia to invest her savings. Since returning home on January 14th, Ali opened a furniture store in Mogadishu's Hamar Weyne district that employs a staff of five.
"I was not counting on making a big profit, but I started this business to create jobs, since the country currently does not have many employment opportunities," she said.
"The important thing is to create a new path for people in the diaspora to create employment opportunities for the youth," Ali said, adding that security improvements gave her confidence to return to Somalia. "People should not be discouraged if they cannot make a big investment in their country. I would tell men and women in the diaspora that even if they can [only] afford a business that employs only one person, it is a big contribution."
Faisa Ali, 28, returned to Mogadishu in November 2012 after eight years in Oslo, Norway. With the money she saved abroad, Ali opened an electronics store in Waberi district.
"I felt a lot of excitement and nostalgia to finally see my country peaceful and I am very happy that I am now back in Somalia," she said. "I did not believe that I would make a big profit when I started this business venture, but I have received what I was hoping for and much more, and now I am hoping to expand it."
Muna Ahmed, 25, returned to Mogadishu in January after 10 years in Kenya. She opened a beauty parlour in Hamar Weyne district and employs six women who she trained.
"I have been in this line of business for seven years," she said. "To open the business, I invested $4,000 that I collected with the help of relatives who live abroad."
She said her salon is unique because it uses modern equipment. She charges women $30 for regular cosmetic services and $100 for services in preparation for weddings. "My average monthly profit is $2,200 and the increasing number of weddings in Mogadishu has encouraged us to operate our business until late at night," she said.