IDP women affected by Mogadishu election chaos start up new businesses

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Jija Mohamed Yussuf, a displaced widow, has returned to her camp in Sigaale village in the Somali capital’s Hodan district after being displaced temporarily by the electoral dispute that brought violent conflict to this part of the city in April.

She used to run a table-top shop selling rice, flour and sugar. When the chaos erupted she fled with her eight children and food stocks to another camp in Deynile, on the outskirts of the city. They ate some of the food to survive and the rest was spoilt in heavy rainfall.

Jija lost not only her source of daily income, but also the $60 investment from a women’s rotating savings group that had enabled her to start the shop in January 2019.

“I used to wash utensils for a restaurant before I set up the shop. I invested some of the money in the savings scheme and that is how I was able to start my own business,” she said.

Jija was one of 30 of the most vulnerable women affected by the political violence that rocked the city to be given $130 by local organisation, Barwaaqo Community, to set up in business again. She started selling women’s and children’s clothes in May.

“This organisation has helped us with a little money. I used my share to buy this stock that I’m selling now,” she said. “I make a profit of more than five dollars though on bad days it can be down to $2.5.”

This was the first aid Jija had received since fleeing five years ago from Qoryooley, Lower Shabelle region, where drought destroyed her farm and livestock.  She is cooking twice a day for her children and hopes things will improve further so that she can move the family out of the IDP camps to a rented house in the city – if she can save enough.

Yasmin Abdullahi, another widowed mother of four, started a vegetable business back in Sigaale with money from Barwaaqo Community. She is making $6 to $10 daily selling watermelon, tomatoes, onions and potatoes.

This is an improvement on her previous earnings of just over a dollar selling vegetables before their brief escape from Hodan district.

“I am making some good money now though most of my customers are buying the vegetables on credit. I open every morning and am hopeful it will soon make a change in my living,” she said.

Yasmin, who fled from Yaaq Biraweyne in Lower Shabelle after her husband was killed in a clan conflict, says she is now able to cook three meals for her children.

A representative of Barwaaqo Community, Salim Mohamed Hassan, said they are planning to help 150 IDP women to start businesses so that they can be independent and move out of the camps. The organisation is funded by diaspora Somalis.

Salim said they wanted to support women with the potential to invest the money wisely and apply for bank loans to further expand their businesses.

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