TSIM Special Correspondent
When he took the job as director at Hormuud Telecom Foundation 2013, Abdullahi Nur Osman did not expect compliments and has worked without expecting any.
However, on January 12, 2017, tributes came pouring in from far and wide after the firm won the Corporate Social Responsibility award at the inaugural Somali Annual Business Awards [SABA]
Still, he refuses to take personal credit for changing the way company’s view interventions in the community’s they operate in.
He says the award is the recognition of what the private sector can do to change the destiny of a country citing the numerous facilities and infrastructure Hormuud has put up.
“Hormuud Telecom Foundation (HTF) believes that our Corporate Social Investment (CSI) goes far beyond the old model of philanthropy of donating money for a good cause at the end of the financial year. We want our CSI to be an all year round investment for our engagement with local communities,” notes Osman.
The Foundation provides humanitarian interventions and basic necessities such as health, education, shelter and food to 11 regions out of the 18 regions of Somalia.
In 2012 the Foundation sponsored a school for the blind. It also has opportunities for bursaries, scholarships, and they further support about 100 needy students, 30 of whom are boarders.
The foundation is also planning to set a dialysis centre and has a training programme for nurses and doctors. The foundation also helps to pay for medical care outside Somalia for cases that cannot be handled locally.
On uplifting the economic status of the community, HTF has a mirco-finance programme mainly lending to women and people with disability. However, beneficiaries are required to repay $10 a month for a grant of $500 – they get trained on how to invest.
“We do this not to make profits, but to teach them to be good investors. If there is no obligation, people are likely not to understand the value of this initiative,” says the foundation’s director.
As an incentive, those who repay faithfully and improve their businesses have their amounts doubled when they borrow again.
“A lot of people are still traumatised by the effects of the civil war. They have no recollection of any other way of life. We want to show them that a new Somalia is on the rise and people can actually get services and help when they need them…”, Abdullahi Nur Osman, Hormuud Telecom Foundation Director.
In central Somalia, the foundations footprints are engrained in emergency services especially during drought and flood areas.
The company sets aside about $ 2 million dollars for its CSR activities and Abdullahi says that could go up as the needs of the people increase.
He says one of the most memorable interventions for the Foundation is when they helped over 500 people to cultivate their farms in the Shebelle region when floods hit the area.
“We helped them to prepare their farms and gave them seeds. The harvest was good. To see the smile and satisfaction on the farmers’ faces was priceless,” he says. The Foundations hopes to do more in development work and also drill boreholes to mitigate the devastating effects of drought.
Osman says the reason the organization has gone out of its way to extend its tetacles in community service is because they also want to show that the new Somali is possible.
In conclusion, he pays tribute to what he calls the resilience of the Somali spirit. “Somalis survived for over 20 years without proper amenities and services, but they never gave up on their country,” he says adding that this has been one of the driving forces in his work.