Mogadishu – A seven-day Social Innovation Camp ended this week with a pledge by the United Nations and the Federal Government of Somalia to help young entrepreneurs develop technological solutions for the dairy industry in Somalia.
The Social Innovation Camp, whose theme was ‘innovate for Somalia’, was organized by the Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Somalia.
The Innovation Camp was attended by more than 40 young women and men aged between 19 and 30 years. Also present were the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, and Somalia’s Minister for Planning, Investment and Economic Development, Gamal Hassan.
The Innovation Camp, the first of its kind to be held in Somalia, focused on the dairy industry – a sector critical to the country’s economic growth, but that still struggles with many challenges such as poor storage facilities, disease outbreaks and lack of animal feed that prevent the industry to reach its full potential.
Speaking at the Camp’s closing ceremony, Mr. de Clercq challenged the youth to come up with practical solutions to social and economic issues facing the country.
The DSRSG de Clercq expressed his satisfaction with the ideas presented, saying it was testimony that simple and innovative ideas can be used to address real local problems.
“We have to see how we can support people like you with all these amazing ideas and see how we can push forward and put them into practice and make them contribute to the economy of this country,” Mr. de Clercq stated, pledging continued UN support.
For his part, Mr. Hassan hailed the participants for their innovative drive, pledging more support to ensure their proposals become reality.
“We have been working with the UN in Somalia to make sure that together we give you an opportunity to come up with solutions and ideas that can benefit the country and all of us. We are together in this and we will give you all the support that you need,” Mr. Hassan stated.
Over the next three months, participants will receive mentorship and incubation support from UNDP to help firm up their business ideas.
“The next three months we will be in the incubation phase, transforming these ideas into businesses and developing their business models. It will be followed by a pitching event for investors,” said Sherif El Tokali, of UNDP.
For his part, Awil Osman Abdi, the Chief Executive Officer of iRise Hub, one of the facilitators, hailed the innovation camp as a great opportunity for Somali youth to contribute to the development of the country’s economy and pledged to organize other similar events in the future.
The business proposals presented will be fine-tuned with the help of experts before being implemented as workable solutions. The skills learned during the Camp, such as design thinking, creative problem solving, prototyping and testing, will be valuable transferable skills that can be used to advance the dairy industry, as well as other sectors in Somalia. Such initiatives enable Somali Youth to focus on local solutions, helping them to create jobs and to support economic development.
The Social Innovation Camp will help to instill an innovation mind-set among young people and contribute to the creation of an enabling environment that fosters youth-led innovative solutions for Somalia.