July 29, 2019

Muhim Ilyas giving entrepreneurship a chance in Somaliland

Muhim at the certificate ceremony at the end of the first round of the workshop

As a youth facilitator at the Somaliland National Youth Organisation (SONYO) in Somaliland, Muhim Ilyas was always interested in entrepreneurship as a career path but lacked the opportunities to pursue it. “Entrepreneurship is the best thing for my self-development and for our region,” she said. 

Entrepreneurship has long been a feature of Somaliland’s character and has contributed to the region’s economic growth and peacebuilding. However, local universities lack in-depth programmes to support young people on their path to entrepreneurship. SPARK’s training of teachers programme recently offered educators the chance to not only improve their own entrepreneurial skills, but to learn how to teach all those interested in it too. Muhim jumped at the chance to become one of 43 other participants to learn how to be an entrepreneurship trainer. 

“Entrepreneurship is the best thing for my self-development and for our region,” she said.

The unique training took participants through the creation of their own business, so they could learn first-hand what obstacles and barriers exist for entrepreneurs. Some participants came up with fruit-selling businesses, others founded taxi services to and from the training! By putting into practice the theory they’d been taught, the real-life scenarios helped the participants make real-life choices. For Muhiim, this was the best aspect of the 10 days of workshops, presentation exercises and energisers, because it pushed her to understand what being an entrepreneur really means. She chose to sell fruits during the breaks and was excited to watch as her classmates actively tried to sell their services.

The best two trainees from the first round were offered the chance to become assistant trainers in the second round, giving them hands-on experience and allowing them to put their knowledge into practice. Muhim’s enthusiasm had caught the eye of the trainers and she was selected to become an assistant. She recalls how useful it was to be able to put her new skills to the test. Being on the organiser side helped her to understand the logistics involved in setting up her own trainings. 

The new trainers are tasked with training more than 3,000 university students and entrepreneurs in Somaliland! University professors and lecturers that became trainers will be teaching entrepreneurship to university students, while the NGO members that participated will become freelance trainers and set up their own courses through Somaliland for any youth interested. In September this year, SPARK will be checking in on the trainers to see how many students have been taught. Muhim and the other participants are excited to share what they have learnt. She plans to teach entrepreneurship to all the youth that she can reach!