Feature: Somali female graduate ventures into meat chop business to beat unemployment
Sumaya Nur Abdi, a 23-year-old female university graduate set her sights on entrepreneurship with the knowledge that formal employment was a mirage in her strife-torn and economically depressed country.
Abdi’s quest to become self-employed was the reason behind her unmatched entrepreneur drive that led to her opening a meat chops business to the delight of her next of kin and peers.
Meat chops, locally known as odka, is a delicacy in Somalia but there is one catch: it is only available when couples wed.
A new groom would always host his close friends to odka shortly after the wedding day. Somalis have a common phrase that if you want to know you have a good mother-in-law, taste her odka.
But Abdi is now challenging the norm and making odka an everyday delicacy.
“I realized people really wanted odka but could not get it on a regular basis,” Abdi told Xinhua during a recent interview.
“After I started this business, I received several orders every day,” she added. Abdi currently prepares the meat chops in her home and distributes them to people in offices and homes and some are based on orders.
“I decided to go full time in the business after I discovered there was a huge opportunity here,” Abdi said.
“But I also wanted to produce something special and of good quality for Somali people,” She added.
The savvy entrepreneur who has now carved her own niche says she had the dream of not only supplying the product to the local market but also overseas in the near future.
Over 2 million Somalis live outside the country and Abdi said she has the ambition of serving native delicacy fellow citizens abroad.
Just like any other business, Abdi has to contend with some challenges as she climbs up the ladder. “Our main challenge is that there are no home addresses in Mogadishu,” Abdi told Xinhua.
“When a client makes an order, you communicate on phone but then have to stand on the roadside as you await them. Sometimes you have to wait for a long time and the person may not even appear and when you try calling, the number may be switched off,” she added.
But that has not deterred her from moving on with her business which she says is now picking up well and meeting her bills.
Some customers now have positive reviews about her business.
“I really appreciate this delicacy and thank Sumaya for her efforts,” Abukar Mohamed, a client told Xinhua.
“I enjoy the meat and I hope many other Somalis will find it delicious,” he added.
Mohamed added that Abdi has made life easy for many Somalis who don’t have the patience and time to prepare the meat chops.
“It takes quite some time to prepare odka and also requires quite some good knowledge to make a good one. That is why it is only prepared during weddings for the groom and the bride and for some special cases but Sumaya has made all that easy for us,” said Mohamed.
Nuradin Haji, who is in the growing list of odka clients, said the meat has replaced his normal rice and pasta for lunch.
“I normally order this special meat when I am at work and very busy. So I have it for lunch,” said Haji adding that the beauty of odka is that it can last for a whole month if it is well preserved and dry.