In my country, according to UN reports, 67%% of our youth are unemployed – but I’m luckier enough to be one of the few who are employed. Yet, unemployment is only one of many global economic indicators that Somalia is leading from the bottom. Sorry, my country!
For the last 2 decades, our country heavily depended on foreign aid. But fast forward 25 years, we are starting to dream and we want to become the champions of our own dreams. We are seeing a future of “Somalis helping Somalis”. That’s the promise of Fursad Fund.
Fursad Fund is Somalia’s first independent trust fund, fully funded and handled by Somalis for the sole purpose of creating opportunities in employment, entrepreneurship, business, education, and many other facets for development. The overall aim is creating Somali-led targeted interventions. Foreign interventions were tested – and many Somalis believe it has failed to achieve its objectives. Now it is the time to end it for the better of Somalia. And that is where Fursad Fund comes in.
Fursad Fund was officially launched on February 27, 2016, in Mogadishu, Somalia. Its Board of Directors comprises 10 “notable” Somali individuals. The fund targets 5,000 donors in one year, thus creating job opportunities in three main areas: “social reconciliation and trust building; job creation and poverty reduction; and education and infrastructure development”. Somalis will play the role of donors contributing $1 per day, $7 per week, $30 per month, or $365 per year. The donations will be contributed by both local Somali residents and expats.
Once someone has an idea worth investing, s(he) can apply for funding. The BOD will determine its viability and whether this business idea will create jobs for other Somalis – the main objective of the initiative. If it passes these requirements, you’ve won the opportunity to make your dream come true.
If Fursad Fund succeeds in achieving these objectives, it will solve one of the most pressing problems in Somalia: high unemployment. But before that big landmark is attained, the initiative itself has to bypass from the current “ambiguous phase”. People are skeptical for many reasons, and they are right to feel so because an initiative of “Somalis helping Somalis” is almost new to the country and needs more time for the people to fully comprehend and adapt it.
As part of coming out of the “uncertain phase,” there’s already a degree of transparency in Fursad Fund. The initiative’s official website shows how much fund the project has so far gathered and also the “pledge donors.
First, there are high profile individuals included in the 10 Board of Directors of the trust fund; current and former ministers, religious, health and education leaders, and motivational speakers. Abdirahman Aynte, the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of the Federal Government of Somalia, is the founder of Fursad Fund; Dr. Maryam Qasim, the former Minster of Social Services; Yusuf Haile Jimale, a member of the Federal Parliament of Somalia, are members of the fund’s Board of Directors. But there’re also other well respected individuals: Sheikh Bashir Ahmed Salad, the head of Somali National Ulema Council; Mohamed Omer, a well-known motivational speaker.
Though no one in the Board of Directors has a proven track of bad history, Somalis have the “bad” memories of the last 25 years in mind. Everyone is a victim of what happened and, for Somalis; politicians were the mastermind of these prolonged problems. As such they’re afraid of if there’s the possibility of the government intervention in this initiative, both in the short-term and/or the long-term. Therefore, it is hard for Somalis to trust any project backed by Somali politicians. In other words, no one here trusts politicians. That’s the norm in Somalia. For this, you can wonder if we’re suffering from “politicophabia”.
Second, who these Board of Directors are accountable to? Is there a mechanism in place for regulating the donated money? Is there a platform that allows an annual general meeting between the donors and the Board? Or do we trust them because they’re respected among the population? I don’t even have a problem if the last question’s response is positive as long as I heard it from a member of the Board.
Third, because of the high rate of youth unemployment in Somalia and the promise of job creation, there’s more work to be done in the short-term if Fursad Fund is to be made a success story in Somalia.
In addition, if you carefully monitor people’s discussion of Fursad Fund in social media networks, you observe a trend in their comments: youth are dominating the initiative, both those from the diaspora and locally grown up boys and girls. There’s a rumor of diaspora dominance in the initiative and this could hinder its implementation. But if their presence will only bring expertise and experience, that will strengthen the future potentials of Fursad Fund.
In any way possible, I’m an advocate of any initiative aimed at bettering my beloved Somalia. But being optimists doesn’t have to make us blind of the reality. We need to be critical to ensure an accurate direction of our future.
If we have fallen in love with Fursad Fund, let those politicians move out of the mirror to convince ALL Somalis to join the initiative. Unless we do that, hesitation will exist of the initiative’s acceptance among Somalis. Yes, it’s true that some of those who come up with the idea are politicians and, for that, they deserve our respect; but if they want Fursad Fund to succeed, let it do without them. That’s the best interest for everyone, even for them. Your legacy will exist even if you don’t have an active participation.
Also, the criteria for creating job opportunities should be shared with all constituencies. Is there a priority of the applicants in certain regions or is this something for all? In this way, everyone will know why his/her idea was declined.
If we can influence our present situation, we can shape our future. Let’s help each other to do that.