On January 27, 2020, during the Somalia Youth Investment Expo, U.S. Ambassador Donald Y. Yamamoto joined H.E. Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire announced a new joint effort to support young entrepreneurs and innovators to contribute to Somalia's stability and prosperity through employment, skills development, and entrepreneurship.
This new effort will be implemented through the existing USAID-funded Growth, Enterprise, Employment, and Livelihoods Program (GEEL). GEEL harnesses the dynamism of Somalia's private sector for growth, employment, and poverty reduction, and will now include specific commitments to support youth-owned businesses and facilitate investments by Somali banks and microfinance institutions.
"Somali youth often face a range of challenges to their economic success," said PM Khaire. "But Somali youth are also some of the most motivated, resourceful, business savvy, and resilient contributors to our economy. The initiative launched today will help begin a sustainable path for access to finance for our youth, who are the key to our country's growth and stability."
The United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission to Somalia, supports a prosperous and resilient Somalia by expanding economic opportunities for youth from across Somalia. "Somali youth are Somalia's future and they should be empowered to invest in their own futures and in their nation," said Ambassador Yamamoto. "Working hand-in-hand along with the Government of Somalia and the private sector, we are investing in our shared commitment to improve Somalia's economy."
Through the expansion of the existing GEEL program, USAID will support Somali youth with employment and skills development opportunities, in partnership with leading private sector companies committed to engaging Somali youth in innovations in agriculture, fisheries, livestock, and energy sectors. The new effort is expected to create over 1,000 new job opportunities for Somali youth by developing the skills they need in today's global economy.
During the Youth Investment Expo, six banks committed $289,703 in start-up loans distributed to 95 youth-owned businesses, who will use the resources to invest in increasing cold storage facilities, empowering staff through certification training, building greenhouses, and using innovative technologies.
"It is inspiring to witness the enthusiasm and work ethic of Somalia's young people - our workforce of tomorrow," said Mr. Mahat Mohamed Ahmed, CEO of IBS Bank. "At IBS Bank, our mission is to positively transform peoples' lives by providing quality, accessible and affordable financial services. Partnering with the USAID GEEL program allows us to have an even greater positive impact on the Somali economy by creating jobs, lifting up promising youth and helping them to thrive economically through sustainable solutions. Because when they succeed, Somalia succeeds."