Archive for July 2015

Somali entrepreneur Yaxye Botan

Before moving to Somaliland to open Botan Car Wash, Botan explored several industries in the Netherlands.  He first started studying at a traditional university but quickly traded it in for maritime school so he could work with ships. Botan worked in the largest port of Europe – the Port of Rotterdam – before making the step into a new industry. This time Botan threw himself into the hospitality industry, working in numerous hotels in various locations across the Netherlands. With time, Botan learned the ins and outs of service businesses and began imagining his own. Wanting to do it right, Botan first spent a long time researching the market for viable business opportunities before pursuing his goals of running his own business. Somali entrepreneur Yaxye Botan researched the area where he owns family land in Hargeisa, Somaliland and soon realized that there was no car wash in the vicinity. In fact, the nearest car wash was in Kaah, some considerable distance away. After completing his research and acquiring the necessary capital, Botan officially established Botan Carwash in August 2014.  Although the first 6 months were difficult as running a startup proved to be a learning experience, Botan Car Wash has now become a profitable business and will continue to be so as the business expands to other locations.

Yaxye Botan Car Wash

What is your personal ambition?

My personal ambition is to see Botan Car Wash continue to grow more and more and be successful as well as maintain our position as the largest car wash in the Calaamadaha area of Hargeisa.

What impact do you see your business making?

Considering that before Botan Car Wash, the nearest car wash services was located relatively far, my business has made the lives of people in my community more convenient as they now have quality car washing services closer to home. The more Botan Car Wash grows and expands, the more job opportunities it will provide. In terms of staff, we have come to learn the hard way the importance of recruiting the most talented staff. To expand our operations, we have to have more skilled staff and at Botan Car Wash we see the value of providing intensive training and support to our staff to ensure greater productivity and reliability.

How do you see the future of your business?

Botan carwash has a comparative advantage because of our strategic location. As mentioned earlier we are the largest car wash in the Calaamadaha area of Hargeisa. Our competitors operate small scale car washes, so we’re able to capitalize on our size and the equipment we have at our disposable. This in itself sets us up for a bright future and gives us a head start. Although we have a large advertising placard outside the carwash, which gives us high visibility from the passing traffic on the busy Airport Road and have also distributed advertising materials across the city spreading the services available at Botan carwash, in the near future we would like to like to advertise on a larger scale such as through television and radio, so as to generate even more publicity.  Currently the carwash is located in a large plot of land. There is potential to use the land for expansion purposes as the carwash only utilizes one part of the land. Ideally, if the capital was available, we would like to expand the carwash, by having different washing bays as well as provide different service packages for our customers.  In the future I would also like to purchase solar panels to help reduce electricity usage. At the moment we are using too much energy and it costs a lot of money. I want to use more energy from solar panels (at least 70%) to power the generator, water pumps, compressors and the hydraulic pumps.  Furthermore, as already mentioned, we would like to use the huge land to build a fuel station and a small cafeteria. These two expansion projects are complementary to the carwash. The research and business expansion plans are already complete and we hope to start work on their development very soon.

Source: Spark

Somali entrepreneur Aisha Mohamed Ahmed

Somali entrepreneur Aisha Mohamed Ahmed came to Somaliland two years ago with a vision to start her own business. She found that doing business in Somaliland was easier than back in the Netherlands as the environment felt more business friendly. When Aisha was still living in the Netherlands she worked as a translator for Somalis for 4 years, capitalizing on her ability to speak 4 different languages which include Somali, Dutch, English and German. She also gained experience working in Administration and Finance for a small company for 2 years where she eventually developed a keen interest in business. Her interest turned into a passion as she started to participate in entrepreneurship seminars in London on business niche training as well as following several business courses online.

After having a child, Aisha became a housewife before deciding to come back to Somaliland to start her own business, the Tea Garden. Established in 2014, Tea Garden is a place for Diaspora youth to purchase food, beverages and other tailored items like branded clothes and souvenirs. Tea Garden also organises events for Diaspora and has become a place for Diaspora youth and professionals to network. Fortunately the Tea Garden is located in Africa House, the 1st business incubator in Somaliland established by SPARK and partners. The large network that comes with Africa House has been great for business and Aisha’s customer base is already connected with the Diaspora demographic that she aims to attract.

Aisha Tea Garden

What is your personal ambition?

My ambition is to provide a social space and a hangout place for Diaspora youth. Restaurants in Somaliland are overpriced, highly decorated and do not provide anything beyond food and drinks. They often alienate many people. My plans are to incorporate an activity based environment into my business, where customers can find familiar foods and a social atmosphere where they can network and participate in organised events. I plan to hold regular events to attract more customers. Somali cultural events will be very important for the customers, so they feel they are getting something out of their time and money. I also believe it’s important for my customers to be able to purchase cultural products and souvenirs on location. I want them to feel at home whilst at Tea Garden. My passion is to run a business, it’s not about making money, it’s about the art of selling for me, the art of doing something worthwhile and doing it good.

What impact do you see your business making?

At the moment there isn’t a space for Diaspora youth to meet in Hargeisa, to find an environment where they can find foods and activities they are familiar with. This is a particularly important area of focus for Tea Garden. I believe Tea Garden will have a positive impact on the community by providing a place for Diaspora Youth to network, grow and support each other.

How do you see the future of your business?

I have high hopes for the future of Tea Garden. I have yet to embark on a strong marketing campaign so that will be short term goal. Once I do this, I plan to make full use of social media, since Diaspora youth are very connected and tech-savvy. I also plan to locate key Diaspora youth who hope to establish a reputation among this demographic. I intend to visit key locations in the city that are already attracting Diaspora youth and will conduct an informal research on the key patterns and trends among them. I do have expansion plans for my business. In the future I hope to redecorate and refurnish Tea Garden to make it look even more professional for instance by including a glass display cabinet for the souvenirs I sell. I would also like to paint the indoor seating areas with bright colours to increase visibility. The outdoor seating areas would also benefit from fresh paint to enhance the ambience and atmosphere. Additionally I would like to hire extra staff, in particular a waiter and cook, to keep up with the demand and create a more inclusive menu for my diverse customers. Since visibility is a key component of my business, I would like to invest money into an effective marketing campaign and to put in place a large advertising pole to improve visibility.

Migrant entrepreneurship Somalia

Source: Spark

Somali entrepreneur Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed

While essential for fostering a safe working environment, Facility Management and Maintenance remains an underdeveloped sector in Somaliland. This led Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed to start his company, SMART, with the purpose of ensuring health and safety for employees and employers alike. SMART maintains and manages buildings, keeping them in good shape and safe to work in. SMART also foresees the maintenance budget dealing with handling utility bills, budget for maintenance repairs and costs related to the upkeep of the building.

Somali entrepreneur Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed grew up in Utrecht, the Netherlands and studied IT in college. Before starting his own company, Ahmed gained experience as a back office support staff and also worked at a call centre and several factories and warehouses. With SMART being less than a year old, Ahmed is still taking on most aspects of the business by himself. He is currently in the process of creating a marketing strategy, weaving through the legal hurdles, and claiming responsibility for finances. Ahmed expressed he has come across many difficulties in the process of establishing SMART. Being a small business, Ahmed was surprised to see SMART face cash flow problems already. He points out that Somaliland is a challenging terrain with exaggerated bureaucracy and a lack of information available; explaining further that, “there is a lack of support for startups.” SPARK is now helping Ahmed through these initial setbacks by guiding him through necessary bureaucratic processes. The most serious issue Ahmed has had to deal with so far is the need for skilled workers who are competent in maintenance work. To tackle this problem, Ahmed is currently prioritizing providing training for his staff. Regardless of these hindrances, Ahmed is up for the challenge. He is determined to build a strong reputation for providing quality services and, in the near future, expanding his client base to more regions of Somaliland.

Impact SMART

What is your personal ambition?

Facility Management is an important sector but it is not fully developed in Somaliland currently. It’s important to provide workers with a safe and secure environment where they can work. Health and safety is very important and SMART believes in giving workers and employers alike, a safe working environment.

What impact do you see your business making?

My business will have a direct impact on the community by providing safe and secure working environments as well as through contributing to the development of the Facility Management and Maintenance sector in Somaliland.

How do you see the future of your business?

The most important thing for my business is to have a good reputation. I would like to broaden my business activities and therefore have access to the investment required to grow my business. I would like to establish offices in the different regions of Somaliland to get a wider reach of clients and market base. I would also like to offer shares to potential partners to finance the purchasing of vehicles, equipment and materials. My business can be improved with better skilled workers, so of course training of staff is very important and a key priority for me and the future of SMART.  Another important area for improvement in the near future is marketing. Better marketing would allow SMART to grow.

Migrant entrepreneurship Somalia

Source: Spark