Habiba Abdulle Yahya’s life was turned upside down by the conflict in Yemen, where she’d lived for 14 years. She got a boat across to Puntland on 2 April with her children. They arrived in Bossaso with only the few things they could carry in their hands.
But just a few weeks later, Habiba took the initiative to set up a small business to avoid having to settle in an IDP camp and depend on charity hand outs.
She spoke to Radio Ergo’s local reporter Fadumo Tahadar.
Habiba: I used to live in the capital Sana’a, where I ran a clothing business to raise money for the family, helped by my adult children. I lived there for 14 years after we were displaced by war from Mogadishu in 2001.
I have been here in Bossaso now for 50 days. I fled with my 10 children, the eldest being 25 and the youngest eight years old. It has been really difficult. I have started a small business selling snacks and food in the streets and in the new displacement camps, where most people who returned from Yemen are staying. I was armed with this business skill before I came here, so I wasted no time to start it with the help of my adult children!
Ergo: How did you start the business?
Habiba: In fact I had nothing when I arrived here, I had no money. I just entered the town empty-handed, but I was innovative. I rented a small house for $25 a month in Bilajal Arab neighborhood near the beach, instead of going to the IDP camp. Though it is always hard to adapt to a new place and new people, the local residents were very friendly and they welcomed us and helped us. Then I realized it was time to start a business.
I was given $720 by the business community of Bossaso, who form an active part of the special committee tasked to assist the returnees. They gave me the money on 26 April 26, so I was able to buy a house, bedding and cooking materials. I started the business with the remaining $230. I bought ice-cream containers, food utensils and other equipment I needed. Now, on a good day, I make around $4 from sales.
Ergo: What are the challenges you face?
Habiba: There are not many challenges, because it’s a business I am familiar with. I am determined to earn a living for my family so I won’t be bothered by life’s other hurdles. We are only at loss when a lot of ice-creams are not bought, so we have to take them back home.”