Somali women entrepreneurs powered up for United Nations business

23 Nov 2023

Somali women entrepreneurs powered up for United Nations business

Mogadishu - Fatuma Sheikh Ali, who owns two country-wide companies dealing in agricultural products and livestock feed, is upbeat on business opportunities with the United Nations after attending a seminar to empower Somali women entrepreneurs to trade with the global body.

She was among some 100 women entrepreneurs who attended a one-day symposium for women-owned businesses held in the Somali capital Mogadishu, under the theme – ‘How to do business with UNSOS’.

Mostly young, the women entrepreneurs got an opportunity to hear from top UNSOS officials, UN procurement experts and Federal Government officials on how to do business with the UN and the accruing benefits and opportunities.

“I started my business from scratch. But I now own fully registered and professionally run companies which pay taxes and employ over 15 staff,” said Ms Fatuma after attending the seminar organized by the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) in collaboration with Somalia’s Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).

“Am very glad I attended this seminar because I now understand how to do business with UNSOS and apply for tenders. The forum provided an opportunity for us to hear from the UN staff and for them to hear and advise us on how best we can take part and benefit from their tendering processes,” she added.

UN procurement rules and procedures are often too technical and time consuming due to the amount of paperwork required including licences and past experiences. But such seminars help to simplify the procurement processes for small and medium enterprises like Fatuma’s when applying and bidding for contracts.

“ I am really honoured and delighted that we have come together again before the year ends to specifically focus on women in business and create an enabling environment and space for you to engage with us and learn more about UB and how you can do business with us,” said the Head of UNSOS, Assistant Secretary- General Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira,who addressed the event via video-call from Rwanda, while assuring Somali women owned businesses of UNSOS’ support.

“As Somalia prospers and moves towards development and continues to move towards engaging the various vendors and entrepreneurs, we think the role of women is critical to ensure that this prosperity and development goes forward,” said Ms Qurat-ul-Ain Sadozai, Officer -In charge and Director UNSOS Mission Support.

“It is all about inclusivity, it’s all about trying to empower and create resilient communities. The role of women is extremely important and as the UN, we are committed to bring the women together and ensure they have the opportunities to be part of this journey we are undertaking,” she added, emphasizing that the aim of the symposium was to ensure that women entrepreneurs get equal business opportunities to prosper and develop.

Supporting Women Owned Businesses

UNSOS is dedicated to increasing the participation of Women Owned Business (WOB) in its procurement of goods and services. In this regard, the Office of Supply Chain Management has committed to continue supporting and developing initiatives that promote this goal.

In his keynote address, the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Mohamed Saney commended Somali women for their resilience and entrepreneurial skills and for playing a key role in nation building.

"Somalia has a rich history of trade and commerce, with women playing a pivotal role in the success of various business sectors. Despite the challenges faced by Somali women in this society, their resilience and determination has shone through, as they continue to break barriers in the business world. However, there is still a significant gender gap when it comes to economic opportunities and access to resources," remarked DG Saney.

Bruno Hussein Maboja, the UNSOS Chief Procurement Officer took the women entrepreneurs through the various UN procurement processes, how to comply with UN rules and regulations and later fielded questions from the participants. He encouraged them to register their businesses with the UN Global Marketplace, an online procurement portal where all the 29 UN organizations post their tenders.

“There is lot of hope and encouragement from the participants. We as UNSOS are ready to assist them to develop and secure opportunities they are looking for to expand on their businesses,” said Maboja.

The seminar was in fulfilment of an earlier pledge in August, where UNSOS promised to hold an exclusive forum for women entrepreneurs to promote the participation of women-owned businesses.

Sahra Sharif Daud, who travelled from the South Western city of Baidoa to take part in the seminar was optimistic that women owned businesses will be given special consideration and supported to compete with male dominated businesses.

“This seminar was very important for us women entrepreneurs. We learnt the various UN tender application and procurement processes. My company is registered with the UN and now that I have been empowered, I look forward to applying for UNSOS tenders that I can deliver and I ‘am very excited for the future of my company,” she said with a smile.

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