Today we speak with Amaal Abukar who works for Silatech and is highly committed to contribute to the revival of Somalia.
Tell us a bit about your background: I have lived, studied and worked in the Netherlands. For many years, I worked in the field of human rights, legal, economic and social development throughout the US, Europe, Africa and Middle East region, such as the likes of the UN agencies. I decided to go back to contribute to the reconstruction and rebirth of my motherland- Somalia.
Can you explain what Silatech does? Silatech headquartered in Qatar is a dynamic social initiative that works to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for young people throughout the Arab world. We promote large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship, access to capital and markets, and the participation and engagement of young people in economic and social development. Silatech works with a wide spectrum of NGOs, governments and the private sector to foster sustainable, to positive change for Arab youth. Silatech also closely works with international development agencies such as the UN, World Bank, ILO, to foster such a change and development throughout the Arab League.
Can you briefly describe your current role for Silatech? In this role, I am involved in the financing and deployment of large-scale youth enterprise programming in the Horn and East Africa, including countries such as Somalia, Djibouti and the Comoro Islands. I work with wide spectrum of NGO’s, governments, and private sector companies. These programs focus on the delivery of holistic financial and non-financial support services to young entrepreneurs to help them conceive, start and grow their businesses. To date, these programs have supported tens of thousands of youth.
Why did you decide to work on these private sector programs in the Horn of Africa? Somalia has one of the highest youth unemployment rate in the world. Too many of these young people are unable to find decent, sustainable employment or access to finance to start their businesses. It’s my duty—as young Somali from the diaspora—to help and lift the economy of Somalia. Therefore, I decided to join Silatech, which stands at the forefront of these efforts—connecting young entrepreneurs with financial and complementary business support services to help them start, grow, and sustain their businesses. We recognize that new enterprise creation remains key to generating employment in Somalia. But It is important that Somalia leverage the talent and energy of its youth to create dramatically higher levels of prosperity and equality and avoid the latent risks of unemployment and social instability.
What is your impression of the Somali private sector? Somalia has made significant progress in the last two decades and has achieved a lot in terms of development and progress within the private sector. Somalia illustrated the ultimate example of the financial sector’s ability to provide a life-line to people affected by sustained conflict.
What would you advice other professionals who have ideas to go back? Somalia is a huge country with a turbulent political history. Despite being stable on its own, since the start of the civil war, there are many opportunities for young professionals to go back and contribute to the country. In the recent years, there were many young diaspora that went back to contribute to the country, for example starting their own businesses, helping the community or being part of the decision-making process within the government, which significantly contributed to the economic and social welfare of the country. I would advise and encourage aspiring young entrepreneurs and others who want to go back to Somalia, to visit the country first and see if they are able to live and adjust to the environment before making such a transition. Somalia is changing and will continue do so. None of us can predict with real certainty what the various markets and opportunities will look in five, ten, fifteen, twenty years. But we can bring our knowledge and experience we gained to help our country.
Thank you Amaal, for sharing a glimpse of your inspiring and adventurous (work)life experience.