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Meet Dr Sadiyo Siad – the catalyst whose mission is to rebuild Somalia one person, one brick at a time!

by Catherine Parker
Monday, February 26, 2018

Despite possessing more than five University degrees which includes a PhD in Tuberculosis and Immunology, a Master’s Degree in Infectious Diseases and Immunology and another Master’s Degree in Medical Diagnostics, with the addition of a PGD in Medical Pathology, and an Honours Degree in her Undergraduate Course at the University of Leicester and Cranfield University, UK - Dr Sadiyo Siad chose to leave everything behind and went to Somalia to establish Hano Academy.

Expanding on the beginning and thinking behind the establishment of the academy, Dr Sadiyo explained “The word Hano is from the Somali language and translated into English it means ‘Achieve’. This word encapsulates a number of social enterprise ventures which she has established which together contribute to Somalia’s economy, peace building, employment and social development. Thus, Hano Academy is the foundation of it all.

What does Hano Academy do?

Dr Sadiyo notes that “Hano Academy is the first accredited Academic Progression and Polytechnic Academy in Somalia which offers a range skill training opportunities and academic courses. The number of courses is on the increase in response to the identified needs of Somalia as a country. Currently, the following training opportunities and courses are offered:

1)     Languages and Professional Development Courses and Training to academics, civil servants, university graduates and formally educated individuals

2)     Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) to technical labour-oriented individuals

3)     Job Creation and Employment Opportunities through:

                           i.          Social Innovation Hub

                         ii.          Hano Recruitment Agency, which is specialised in Apprenticeship, Internship and Workplace Experience

                       iii.          Khibrad Recruitment Agency, which helps potential employers connect with the wide range of our knowledgeable, capable and skilled Hano Academy graduates.

Mode of Instruction and Training at Hano Academy

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Hano Academy approach to teaching and training includes on Campus and a Distance Learning Platform. Hano Academy acknowledges the nature and complexity of modern life and thus has employed flexible teaching and learning methods that include a range of approaches and styles. This approach has enabled Hano Academy as an institution of higher education to excel in fostering transferrable skills that appropriately meet employers’ immediate and strategic needs.

Hano Academy courses are taught by a cadre of international experts within their field. The teaching is undertaken by trainers and lecturers from a range of international backgrounds, including American, Canadian, British, Turkish, Kenyan and other international teachers/lectures via our Online Live Software. They also have teaching members of staff based at Hano Academy Campus in Mogadishu who are also involved in coordinating this truly international teaching and entrepreneurial environment. In additional to normal teaching and training, they also provide compressed (short) courses that aim to address the time pressures associated with busy professionals, employed people and other family demands. They are also proud to have bilingual tutors who are equipped to deal with support needs of the trainees and students.

Dr Sadiyo Siad

Dr Sadiyo Siad is among the few highly educated Somali women and she is not just talking the talk but walking the walk. She is a single mother who takes care of both her five children and a family back in Somalia. She engages actively in philanthropic work which has included being a board member in various organisations, in addition to being the founder of a UK registered charity – Eva Organization for Women (EOW Charity). The aim of the charity is to help people, who are in charitable need particularly women and young people to have a positive impact on the world in which they live; and the main focus of the charity is on Empowerment Programmes, Youth and Parents Project, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Hano Initiative (Building up Somalia One Person, One Brick at a Time).


It was also, through this charity which led Dr Sadiyo Siad going back to Somalia in 2011. It was during this time that she did humanitarian aid work for drought and famine victims, as well as carrying out a pilot project that seeks to empower youth and women in Somalia (Read more in here and here). Since then, the charity has been operating on community level (grassroots) projects including enterprises for women in Somalia (micro financing), sponsoring orphans and under-privileged children for their school fees and undertaking research around unemployment in a number of regions including Mogadishu, Hargeisa and Jigjiga in Ethiopia. The research has demonstrated that many young people and women suffer as a result of abject poverty, among other issues.

Dr Sadiyo Siad hasn’t only sacrificed everything she has, but has also taken her five children on a journey under her motto ‘rebuild Somalia one person, one brick at a time’. She is a pioneer and a catalyst whose mission is not only a dream but a transformation into reality. So far, Hano Academy has educated and trained more than 330 students in IT, hospitality and catering, mobile phone repair, computer repair, tailoring and English language as well as Somali literacy and numeracy. In addition to the above, more than 4,500 people have attended conferences, seminars and workshops on a range of themes/topics, including research, statistics, social media for social impact, architecture through cultural identity, digital marketing, e-commerce, life skills and goal setting, team-building and team work. These courses have enhanced both the knowledge and skills of those who have attended.

A refugee in the making

Some of the students at Hano Academy are refugee returnees and IDPs and they are connected with Dr Sadiyo Siad in a manner which is fundamentally unique. In one event which has gathered more than 160 refugee returnees and IDPs, she share her life as a refugee, the obstacles she had to overcome and her success and aspirations. When asked what one aspires. She said “I was a refugee in the making, a product of hope and inspiration. If I, as a teenage mom in a foreign country as a refugee with no mother, father, sisters, brothers or any other tight-knit family, can learn a new language, finish college, work and ultimately make it to university, I believe many people would realise that I haven’t wasted the opportunity I was been given both in Denmark and UK, and I will forever be grateful for everything I have”

 What is the biggest challenge in Somalia?


When asked what the biggest challenge facing Somalia, Dr Siad responded “The biggest challenge in Somalia is how to increase employment for young people. Almost 75% of the population lacks quality education and employment and I believe that we can bring about some solution to these challenges through the services we provide here at Hano Academy”.

Why you are so engaged in this work?

When asked why Dr Siad is interested in this work she recalled her life story and history and expanded on the points she raised. “When I was fleeing from Somalia during the civil war, I promised and prayed to God that if I ever succeeded to attain the highest level of education, a doctorate degree (PhD) I would go back to Somalia and help to rebuild my birth country. Thus, not surprisingly in 2015, I kept that promise and came back to Somalia.”

This journey back has not been without criticisms. Some people said to her that Somalia was too dangerous and too unstable for any meaningful change to occur and also that there were a lack of investment and support for female entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, when ideas and initiatives are coming from and driven by a woman, these are not often taken seriously by potential investors, especially in relation to education and training sectors. Dr Siad is braving the waves as she is the first educated Somali woman to establish an accredited Academic Progression and Polytechnic Academy in Somalia while creating jobs and employment opportunities to women and youth.

She comments “We do this, because we believe that quality professional education, technical and vocational education training (TVET) and employability skills, coupled with job creation is the pathway to safer, more prosperous and inclusive society. This approach is likely to reduce significantly criminal activities, migratory pressures and also unlock economic potential.

If you want to make a change, why not run for a political office, especially with the vision and mission you have?

Dr Siad responded “I think Somalia needs fresh, intelligent, educated, energized and passionate individuals, who are not focused on political gain but on social development and that is what I believe I can contribute to my country of birth.”

“See, I returned to Somalia because I want to be part of the solution. I have never aspired to become a politician. I am just a simple woman and I see myself as a global citizen – determined to help others to find their purpose in life. I am passionate about the work I am doing now and it is enough for me because I believe that my vision is also equally and constructively contributes to the stabilisation, peacebuilding and economic and social development we all aspire for Somalia”.

Charity starts at home

Dr Sadiyo Siad believes that charity starts at home. Thus, she started EOW-Charity in Leicester, UK. She has undertaken a number of projects, including #BrighterFuture Youth Project which was first held at the University of Leicester in 2014, facilitating workshops as well as #Brighter Future Youth Conference, Plenary Discussion, Youth Achievement awards and Entertainment. Again in 2016 #Brighter Future Youth project was delivered in St. Matthew, Leicester to help young people to excel in today’s world.

Dr Sadiyo Siad also spearheaded another project (Ka Hortag…) in 2015 which was aimed at specifically Somali youth and parents. This project consisted three parts. Part 1: Career fair with over 25 Somali professionals (graduate, PhD, and Post-docs) from all walks of life such as engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc., who convened and gave a huge chunk of their time to help prospective Somali students who attended the event with any potential questions they might have for their future studies. Part 2: contained talks from inspirational speakers whom as individuals have broken through the barriers and has become successful in their respective fields. Youth workers, who are presently working on tackling relevant issues, and a young person who went astray but later managed to overcome their past difficulties; religious and community leaders. Part 3: was a plenary discussion to exchange knowledge, wisdom and information. Ka Hortag means prevent in Somalia and was a project focused on Somali youth and parent in Leicester.

At the University of Leicester, Dr Sadiyo Siad has also contributed by serving as a post graduate student and staff committee during 2010-2014, organising three days annual departmental conferences and social events within her Department (Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation) at the college of medicine at the University of Leicester. She has also worked as a TA, teaching undergraduate students in their practical classes. Dr Sadiyo Siad service has been honoured in many other ways. Just as one other example, Dr Siad was awarded the Frank May Cup and the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012 at the University of Leicester for the work she has done through EOW-Charity both nationally and internationally (Read more).

Other significant voluntary work

Other significant voluntary work that Dr Sadiyo Siad has undertaken includes being part of the team that organised fundraisings for the acquisition and transportation of firefighting equipment that included fully equipped ambulances and trucks to Somalia in 2012. Through such initiatives, Mogadishu now has a functioning fire and emergency service for the first time in over two decades. A recent report released by Mogadishu’s fire and emergency services in December reported that the unit had responded to 78 fire incidents and 137 ambulance calls since December 2012 (as of 2014).

In 2015, Dr Sadiyo went back to Somalia where she hosted the “Sharing Knowledge Tour” in which she was delivering lectures and seminars based on her PhD research on tuberculosis and immunology. This was undertaken across some part of Somali regions starting at the University of Hargeisa and also included seminars at Jazeera and Jamhuri Universities in Mogadishu.

More recently, Dr Sadiyo has spearheaded a campaign to raise funds and help the victims of the October 14th, 2017 Mogadishu truck bomb attack. As of 11th November 2017, $35,525 had been donated. This fund went to help some of the victim’s children to cater for their education fee. Some of the funds were sent directly to the victims and their families. The fund also went towards business start-up programmes to rebuild the lives of the victims. Furthermore, the fund had also extended to provide Disaster Management Course for Disaster Responders in Mogadishu.

This is the first time in Somalia to have a Disaster Management Course delivered by experts from the UK, Canada and Kenya. Dr Sadiyo remarked “Money is not the only thing worth giving as knowledge can just be as valuable. We as a team wanted to not only ‘give the man a fish’ (meaning to distribute money only) but ‘teach the man how to fish’ (meaning give a valuable training and help them to start their own business so that the victims and their families do not to relay on others to survive). Thus, Dr Sadiyo would like to thank those who donated and helped out. She also said ‘I am deeply grateful for the hard work that Hodan Nalalyeh from Integration TV and Launchgood.com did. This campaign would not be successful without their support” Read the press release to know more about this in here!

One interesting quality

One interesting quality that Dr Sadiyo Siad possesses is her entrepreneurial spirit and the way she is making her dreams translate into reality. She is a woman who doesn’t take no for an answer. She is persistent when it comes to business and life in general, so we wanted to know what motivated her.

She said “I remember when I was five years old. I was playing by myself with my hand-made dolls and some leaves that looked like bananas. I was pretending to sell them. The dolls were my customers, when suddenly someone that I didn’t know (I think it may have been a woman) approached me and asked what I was doing. I explained that I was selling bananas. So, the woman said, “Can I buy some?” I gave her the best leaves (pretend bananas) which I had chosen with a passion and care. Another stranger came and asked the women what we were doing and the women told the other person about the good service that I gave her. Upon hearing that woman’s praise about my service, gave me the confidence, determination and motivation I needed to do everything to my best ability. At the time I was going through a difficult time and for the most I kept to myself, visiting my own imaginary world. I mean a World where I could be me, where I could do pretend trades, pretend to be a doctor and play by myself with my dolls and have visual images. Well, my imaginary business and visual images never went to waste as I started my first real business aged 7, followed by three other businesses before I was 12.”

More recently, Dr Sadiyo Siad also started few businesses with friends and family both in the UK and in Somalia. She was the winner of Enterprising Student of the Year (2014) run by the University of Leicester and was also accredited by the Leicester Award at the University of Leicester.

About Dr Sadiyo Siad, visit at:

Website: www.drsadiyosiad.com | Email: [email protected]

Connect with Dr Sadiyo Siad on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter: @DrSadiyoSiad






Links to access additional information about Hano Academy, visit at:

Website: http://www.hanoacademy.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5IJJepw8f0

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HanoAcademy

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hanoacademy?lang=en






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