Young Somali entrepreneurs get seed funding to turn their business ideas into realityDec 6, 2018
Two teams of young Somalis with bright ideas for improving their country’s future will soon see their plans put into practice. After taking part in UNDP’s Future Ready initiative, both teams have won 3,000 USD funding from the private sector to bring their solutions onto the market.
One team is made up of two young Somali women, Nimo and Suad, who have developed an app that enables prompt and safe transportation in the city of Hargeisa. Their app, called Trify, will contribute to greater urban security – an essential aspect of resilient urban development.
The other winning team is made up of four young men, Mohamoud, Ahmed, Hamse and Abdishakur. This team came up with an idea for an app that will make it easier for those in need of blood to connect with blood donors, greatly improving a crucial aspect of healthcare.
The winning teams were part of the first generation of sixty young entrepreneurs who took part in a two months UNDP Future Ready initiative in Hargeisa, which was run in partnership with Somali Innovation Hub, Shaqodoon.
All participants received valuable hands-on training and experience in creative design thinking, software development and basic business skills, greatly increasing their chances of future success in high-tech careers and ventures. The technological training component set the participants the task of working in teams to design and build prototypes of apps to solve real-world development challenges.
A key objective of Future Ready is to promote entrepreneurship and careers in science for young Somalis. By tapping into the talents of youth and building their capacities to find technical solutions to the challenges they face, the initiative aims to generate and foster innovative ways for the country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The teams won their funding when they got the chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts as part of a Global Entrepreneurship Week, which took place in November this year.
They were awarded seed funds of 3,000 USD each from Dahabshil Bank for having the best solutions to challenges Somali communities were experiencing. This funding will be administered through UNDP’s partner, Shaqodoon, which will help guide the teams through an incubation programme to finalize the development of the app and create viable business plans.
“We’re obviously really excited about the app,” says Nimo, one of the young women who developed the Trify app, “but actually the course was valuable in a lot of other ways too. I really liked the method of learning by doing and the exercises in critical and design thinking. They showed us new ways of thinking about challenges and that could be even more valuable in the long run.”
Yehye says his team got the idea for their Somaliland Blood Bank app after witnessing a father desperately seeking a blood donor for his child in a Hargeisa hospital. “Our app will mean a donor can be found in just a single click,” he says, “and that could save lives.”
UNDP’s Country Director George Conway says young people are leading the way in shaping innovation and technology in Somali cities and communities. “The Future Ready initiative aims to inspire hundreds of Somali youths to come up with and share creative and innovative ideas, and be positive agents of change in their communities, by providing them with technical and business skills to make their way in the industry of the future.”
“We are glad that these first graduates have made this break-through, and I’m looking forward to seeing these apps enter the market,” he said.
The Future Ready Programme is part of UNDP Somalia’s wider long-term commitment to helping Somali communities develop skilled and engaged innovators and entrepreneurs.
UNDP aims to expand Future Ready into a large-scale programme that will reach many more aspiring young Somali innovators, both women and men, over the next five years.