Three IDP-led social enterprises have won awards for their ideas during a pitch event and start-up fair in Mogadishu, where they presented their business concepts to a panel of expert judges. The event was led by Mogadishu University, in partnership with the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Benadir Regional Administration, as part of RE-INTEG, a joint program working to address displacement in Mogadishu.
Ten teams pitched altogether during the event, which was the culmination of a 6-month social entrepreneurship training course for people in IDP communities, run under the RE-INTEG program. The three winning teams won a cash award for their ideas -a bakery in IDP communities, a bee farm and school selling honey, and a rug and mat business which is already up and running. It is aimed that the cash award will help them further develop their product and reach more customers.
Alongside those that pitched their ideas, over fifty teams from the course also showcased products in areas such as renewable energy, water and sanitation, food production, education and waste management. Two of the winning teams and almost fifty percent of those showcasing their products were women-led businesses.
Speaking at the event, Adur Adam, Deputy Director of the Humanitarian Aid and Human Rights Department of Banadir Regional Administration (B.R.A.), said the event was in line with Benadir Regional Administration's strategy in addressing displacement. "Under the B.R.A. strategy, the RE-INTEG Social Entrepreneurship Program is one of the best practices so far in building a long-term solution to displacement in Mogadishu," he said.
The event was attended by representatives from UNDP, Mogadishu University, Benadir Regional Administration, the Somali Chamber of Commerce, Hormuud Foundation, the Somali Women's Development Center (SWDC), as well as by a number of other civil society organizations and local academic institutions. The judging panel was made up of experts from Mogadishu University, Simad University, the Somali Innovation and Development Organisation (SIDO), and Premier Bank.
Selene Biffi, UNDP Project Manager for the RE-INTEG programme, said the event showed that innovative social enterprises led by people from IDP communities can help economic development in Somalia. "The IDPs who have presented their ideas today are showing that social entrepreneurship is not only possible in Somalia, but it is also an amazing opportunity for communities wishing to rebuild their social and economic fabric from within," she said.
Zahra Mohamed, the Chairperson of the SWDC organization, said she was happy to see that two of the winning teams, and many of those showcasing their business ideas were led by women. "Women can be the best social entrepreneurs in the market," she said.
All of the teams who showcased and pitched during the event will be eligible to get financial support, through a EU funded grants scheme managed by UNDP under the RE-INTEG programme, and will take part in a RE-INTEG business incubator to get additional mentoring and professional support.
The RE-INTEG programme works to address displacement in Mogadishu through improving employment opportunities and access to housing and services. UNDP works in partnership with the Banadir Regional Administration, UN-Habitat, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Somali Innovation and Development Organisation (SIDO), Cooperazione e Sviluppo (CESVI), and the Somali Women's Development Centre (SWDC) to deliver the activities of the RE-INTEG.
Keelin FitzGerald, Communications Specialist, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Somalia.