Sweden: On the lookout for Somali businesswomen

From left: Wilo Abdulle Osman and Rhoda Elmi are entrepreneurs and part of the SSBP program. Photo: Agnes Nygren

Swedish Somalia Business Program (SSBP) is a rather unusual development initiative and is a collaboration between Forum Syd and Business Sweden. The program aims to create a rights-based and sustainable private sector in Somalia by learning from and building on capacity within the Somali diaspora. Within SSBP, business interested can apply for grants to get their entrepreneurship started.
During a few of weeks in April/May the Women Network of SSBP will head out for an information tour in Sweden to meet interested women, already active or future, entrepreneurs primarily within the Somali diaspora. The women’s network was initiated to attract more women to the programme and to discuss and develop business ideas and female entrepreneurship in Somalia.
One person who became aware of SSBP at a previous information gathering is 28-year-old Noora Ali from Gothenburg. She will soon conduct a trip where she will analyze market possibilities together with her business partner, who is also her mother.

“I want to start a bakery in Somaliland. I wish to contribute to society and hire local staff with fair working conditions. SSBP aims to promote development in Somalia and my mission is aligned to that,” says Noora with enthusiasm.
The collaboration between Forum Syd and Business Sweden is new since 2016 and James Butler, Senior Manager at Business Sweden, regards the programme as unique in its character.
“The entrepreneurial spirit is strong within the Somali diaspora and SSBP is a unique programme. Our mission is to assist Swedish companies reaching international markets and within SSBP we care for the business aspect of the programme. Forum Syd understands the contextual challenges of the country and contributes with a right-based approach. The local ownership and training is fundamental for making business ideas long-term and sustainable,” James explains.

Mohamed Abshir participated during a conference which gathered last year’s recipients of the SSBP grant. He has extensive experience of export and sales of heavy vehicles. His business idea emerged when he was working for Scania in Dubai, during the financial crisis in 2008 which made spare parts market attractive. Mohamed decided to start spare parts company Eurotrucks and recount what made him drawn to the SSBP programme.
“It wasn’t the financial grant that attracted me to SSBP but the boost in competence. I hope Forum Syd can assist me to increase know-how in Somalia while Business Sweden can assist me to increase my personal business competence,” says Mohamed.

Are you, or do you know of any, woman interested in Somalia who wishes to contribute to the country’s rebuilding while at the same time wish to run your own company? If so you are the one SSBP is looking for! The business you’re thinking about should in that case have clear objectives regarding fair working conditions and have gender and environmental considerations. The programme is open to all but the upcoming information tour is only available to women.

The dates are preliminary and we need to know your interest!
Malmö – May 5
Göteborg – May 6
Linköping – April 28
Örebro – April 29
Borlänge – May 12
Stockholm – May 13
Notify your interest at info.ssbp@forumsyd.org and tell us which city you stay in or which city you are able to travel to, you name and if you already run a company. More information will follow on email. Please also check out the SSBP Women Network’s Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/133852207161069/

Forum Syd