Shariff Ibrahim Hussein, a small business owner, is managing to support his family in the displacement camp where they live in southern Somalia’s Gedo region, despite the drought and economic strife.
Thanks to the restaurant and shop that he has gradually built up in Kabaso market in Dollow, his family are satisfied.
“The progress I made in my life from this business includes being able to afford education for my children. The other thing is that my family, which used to cook one meal, is now getting three meals a day,” he said proudly.
Shariff, 32, is among the 300 men and women living in Kabaso IDP camp who have set up small businesses to provide for their families and strive for independence. They are also generating employment for other displaced people.
He arrived in the camp in 2021 after losing 173 goats and 16 cows to drought in Haji-Barre village, 23 km from Luq. He began working as a waiter until he had saved enough to open his own eatery in 2014. Having built up from being a one-man business, he now has several workers and makes profits of $20-30 a day selling meals.
Last September, he was able to further expand the restaurant and built his family a roofed house. He also opened a store selling food, clothes, and other household items. He has enrolled two of his children in school and comfortably pays the monthly fees of $16, and is now employing 15 youth from other IDP families,
Abdullahi Ahmed, 22, works as a cook in Shariff’s restaurant, earning about five dollars a day. He told Radio Ergo his job puts breakfast and lunch on the table for his family of 13, for whom he is the sole breadwinner. They were depending on food aid distributed in the camp by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which stopped in 2020.
“My job has changed my family’s way of living immensely. When the food aid stopped, my mother and sister used to go to Dollow in Ethiopia to do laundry jobs. But after some time, they couldn’t get any jobs and that was what prompted me to put my skills to work. I thank God now I am supporting my family,” he said.
Habibo Abdullahi Kadiye is among 40 IDP women selling vegetables in Kabaso town. She built her family a decent roofed house in November, after years of living in a flimsy hut in the camp. She is paying school fees for five of her children and supporting the household. She used to do laundry and cleaning jobs but makes a better living with her own small business.
Habibo, 41, joined Kabaso IDP camp in 2016, after returning to Somalia with her eight children from Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.
Kabaso IDP camp is home to more than 20,000 families. The first families settled there in 2011. A decade on, it is estimated that the scores of small business are employing 200 IDP youths.