Somalia to hold the first ever business awards

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By TSIM Reporter

In 2008, at the Olympics held in Beijing, a young Somali girl was among the competitors in the 200 meters. Few people, if any, had heard about the girl, Samiyo Omar, but when she crossed the finish line, even though she came last, there was a standing ovation.

She had beaten many odds to compete and had risked the wrath of Islamic militia controlling Mogadishu.

She had trained in a potholed-filled track never mind the improper shoes. In fact, the shoes she used during the race were donated by Ethiopian amateur athletes.

After the Olympics Al-Shabaab banned all Somalis from participating – or even watching – sports let alone wearing sports jerseys.

Determined to succeed, she crossed over to Ethiopia hoping to train for the 2012 Olympics.

Asked why she braced all the dangers and even risking her life she said: “We Somalis don’t look back. We just keep going!”

Sadly, she died while trying to cross from Libya to Italy in the same year. She was among the migrants who drowned after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea.

However, her courage and words did not die with her. True to her words, after decades of war, Somali has risen and it keeps going. Business is thriving and the economy is growing, a fact even the World Bank acknowledged in its report this year, Transition amidst Risk.

In the report released in April, the World Bank says the country has the potential to overcome what it described as “immense challenges” to attain meaningful reforms towards sustainable development.

“So far, there are positive signs that the economy is responding: Somalis are returning from abroad, shops are opening, new financial institutions have been licensed, and property markets are booming. Somalia is at a turning point. Creating a workable system of government will be central to its recovery,” says the report.

And one consortium in Somalia wants to make this big news and change the negative perceptions people have about Somalia.

“The news is full of ‘a bomb here and an explosion there’; but little is said about ‘a business here and a success there’. We want to showcase the rise of Somalia’s business,” says the Somalia Investor Magazine Consortium.

To achieve this, the consortium is organising the Somali Annual Business Awards (SABA), which is a first of its kind in the country with the event slated for the end of this year.

SABA, a non-profit initiative aims to motivate and improve the Somali business community by publicising positive stories and successes of Somalis through a business award system.

“Somalia prides itself in being the first country to have efficient and fast world money transfers. Business is thriving in cities and big towns. Somalis have inborn entrepreneurship talent, hence SABA aims to uncover and discover more of this hidden talent among Somalis,” says the consortium.

According to the publisher of Somali Investor Magazine, Mohamed Dubo, the uncompetitive nature of the private sector in Somalia is what informed this award and the fact that Somali people have business acumen that needs to be supported.

“Since the collapse of Siad Barre government in 1991, the private sector was informally thriving and provided key but critical public sector services such as education and healthcare services. This informality can just go this far and businesses have no alternative but to formalise, use the standard management methods and above all escalate their standards, administration and management thresholds,” he says.

In a call out to all businesses in Somalia, SABA organisers have invited all businesses to forward their success stories.

For the participants, the awards will be much more than taking trophies and certificates of excellence home. SABA participants will have the opportunity to be connected to banks and financial life-lines. Some Mogadishu banks and businesses have expressed willingness to provide supply-chain facilities and financial streams to businesses that
have entrepreneurs who are well organised and in need of help.
“Business people who have embraced the culture of having formal and organised systems in their businesses will be offered training and mentorship facilities,” says the organisers.

The award will also create a publicity platform that will show case business success in Somalia

The award participants will be given a brief training so that they are aware of the award assessment criteria. The assessing team of experts will also undergo training so that they know the assessment criteria and methodology.

Organisers say the process will adhere to the highest ethics of any international awards.

“The SABA process is ring-fenced with water tight integrity in all stages from the selection of participants, evidence collection, evidence analysis to the award declaration,” say the organisers.

The data collection will be done in Somalia under strict supervision of the Award advisor. The data analysis and computation of preliminary award recipients decisions will be done under secured environment. The final award declarations will be done by a team of eminent persons in Somalia . All these steps are designed to increase the credibility of the award and prevent any chance of guesswork or rumors surrounding the award process.

For more information and to register, go to http://sabaawards.com/