By Deeq Mohamed Afrika
The Somali people have had many false dawns in the past regarding development financing. It is exactly because we understand this history of disappointment that Fursad Fund seeks to be an example of best practice grounded in the Somali people’s priority of needs.
Somalia, in spite of government rhetoric, is making progress towards stability and no doubt, progress will follow in all its forms. Today, Somalia is also experiencing a change in attitudes and mind-set regarding development. For too long, many Somalis feel they have been waiting for an invisible hand to feed them, support them and decide the path of their developmental future. However, as is clearly evident, the traditional aid model has not worked for Somalia.
While donor aid is important for the midterm future, it is not sustainable for the long term. All donor support needs to be supplemented with internal revenue collection and budget allocations for key public services and economic growth if sustainable development is to be achieved in Somalia by Somalis. One of the ways to achieve this is through entrepreneurialism and expansion of the economic base to create greater wealth for Somalis.
Fursad Fund is a grassroots organisation established to contribute to sustainable development and peace in Somalia by mobilizing all Somalis to be part of the recovery process and create opportunities.
The idea behind the Fursad Fund is that citizens take ownership and work together to build a cohesive society. Fursad Fund aims to achieve this by collecting voluntary contributions from all interested Somalis living across the world and to use these funds to empower the Somali people to unleash the potential of their creativity to rebuild their lives, community and country.
Fursad Fund’s priorities have been decided with stakeholders, are clear and fundamental to individual empowerment, community development and national economic progress. Key priorities of the Fund are job creation and poverty reduction as well as education and infrastructure development. These priorities are the basis for sustainable development and progress in Somalia.
The Fund is using technology to enhance financial transparency. The Board (Comprising of government and civil society) and management are committed to ensuring each dollar donated, reaches the Somali people through projects, microfinance and skills and education. Therefore, a comprehensive due diligence policy and processes have been adopted and will be implemented with all decisions.
“It is impossible to rebuild any country, especially a post conflict one like Somalia, which needs so much to prosper on aid alone. The Somali people across the country are waking up to the need to take a lead in their own future and roll up their sleeves to empower themselves.” The Executive Director of Fursad Fund, Deeq Mohamed Afrika.
The idea of the Fund is that any Somali, who has realistic, sustainable and implementable idea that creates opportunities, can apply for the Fund. The management reviews the proposal and, if it meets the set criteria, it is then forwarded to the Board of Directors who make the final decision. If the Board approves a particular project, it will then be implemented with oversight from Fursad Fund team and sometimes allocated experts relevant to particular sector. This process ensures that Fursad Fund continues to support the project and beneficiaries through diverse strategies and up to the point of completion.
Given that there isn’t an infinite fund in the country; Fursad Fund has to thoroughly prioritise what projects are supported by the Fund. The Fund aims to have immediate and measurable impact on Somali society. The Fund also must ensure that it empowers the most vulnerable in the Somali society who have great implementable ideas and require funding and technical support to bring them to life.
Fursad Fund focuses on supporting women, youth and people with disabilities in Somalia’s key potentially economically competitive industries such as the blue economy, agriculture and technology. The Fund also seeks to support innovation, which will be the engine of Somalia’s economic growth, through funding, provision of diverse expertise, local and global networking and partnership building.
To date, Fursad Fund has received 42 proposals from across the country and is now funding three out of the six identified potential projects. In Mogadishu, it has started the Kaamilo Project, which is aimed at supporting, promoting and keeping female entrepreneurs in business by providing them with loans. The Fund will also be train them on how to potentially diversify and or expand their businesses. In Baydhabo, the Fund is financing a group of 26 of people with disabilities people who bought a farm and are planning on sharing the profits from this farm with 520 other people with disabilities registered in Baydhabo. Further, in Hargeisa, the Fund is collaborating with Somaliland Food Solutions in building the first Green House in Somaliland.
It is sad that many today do not feel they have much to offer themselves and their society in Somalia. However, with support and adequate financing for their ambitions, where it is economically viable, this can be quickly turned into the hope that drives forward Somalia’s economic recovery and social cohesion.
The writer is the Executive Director of Fursad Fund and he can be tweeted @DeeqAfrika