Social response: Somaliland business community shows potential to do more than aid agencies

A street in Woqooyi Galbeed region, Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Photo credit: AFP

Ahmed Omar’s family is one of the 100 IDP households that live in Qalah Camp in southwest of Hargeisa. He was previously a shopkeeper, but that’s before the nearby Hargeisa Waaheen Market was destroyed by fire in April.

The social and economic destruction caused by the fire was massive. The only school in the area was closed. Distraught parents, whose businesses had been affected by the fire, could not pay fees for the school to continue running.

“When the school was closed, we had no other option but to call for help from anyone who could support our children’s schooling. We thank the MSG Foundation, which responded immediately,” says Omar.

MSG Foundation is one of the local support organisations. It was founded in 2020 by Mohamed Said Guedi, the owner and managing director of MSG Group of Companies. The Group runs fibre optic internet provider, Somcable, and a host of other subsidiaries involved in the manufacturing, energy, logistics, and construction industries.

The involvement of MSG Foundation in supporting families affected by the Hargeisa Waaheen Market fire has been massive, and highlights how immensely the local business community contributes to emergency response. Plus, they do so quite fast and without bureaucracy.

“We saw the closure of the Qalah IDP Camp school due to the financial crises caused by the Waaheen Market fire, and we responded immediately to fill the gap, covering teacher salaries, repair, and maintaining of the Madrasa building,” says Hamdi Ibrahim, the Chairman of MSG Foundation. 

Hassan Barre, one of the teachers working at the Madrasa, says more than 180 pupils from 100 families in Qalah IDPs Camp in Hargeisa, who were the secondary victims of the Hargeisa Waaheen Market fire destruction, will benefit too, from the support.

Students in Qalah Madarasa in Hargeisa after class repair and furnishing by MSG Foundation.

Photo credit: MSG Foundation

Financial donation by MSG Foundation following the destruction of the Waaheen Market in Hargeisa by fire, in April 2022.

Photo credit: MSG Foundation

In addition, locals have praised MSG Foundation for responding to the secondary victims of the Waaheen Market fire.

Ali Abdi Osman, a social-economist in Hargeisa, says: “All the (official) reliefs targeted the business owners, but there are secondary victims, who are even more vulnerable.  At least MSG Foundation reached out to these people without wasting time.”

MSG Foundation was established just about two years ago, but it has already spent more than $2,755,541.39, much of it in the last eight months.

“We have spent $380,499.88 on education; $671,937.33 on housing; $309,928.47 on enhancing access to water by digging wells and water trucking in drought-affected areas; $221,428 on improving access to health care, including the building of MCHs (mother and child hospitals) and equipping and employing health professionals in different districts of Somaliland; $545,837.92 on building mosques and Quranic schools, plus employing teachers; and $625,909.79 on emergency relief we provided to the drought-affected people, and Waaheen Market fire relief response,” explains Hamdi.

If all the companies in Somaliland spent between $5-10 million on social responsibilities and emergency relief, they would provide more support than international aid agencies, who, as per expert views, tend to spend a bit too much money on and time in assessments, workshops and travel.

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