(ERGO) – Bahjo Mohamoud Ibrahim never imagined she would be selling fish in the northern Somali port town of Bossaso, where she graduated in public administration from a local university, until she and six other graduates decided to set up their own business.
She and her friends are among 75 youth trained in business skills and awarded start-up grants under a UN project tackling graduate unemployment.
Bahjo is now customer relations officer withtheir own Maayo fisheries company. They buy 50 to 70 fish a day from fishermen on Bossaso beach, fry some of them, and sell fired and raw fish at bus stages and public parks. In just two weeks of operation from the end of June, they sold 500 fish making a profit of $200.
“Some of us fry the fish while others take it to the market for sale. We have a manager, marketer, customer care and an accountant,” said Bahjo, who graduated in 2019 from East Africa University.
People express surprise seeing these educated youth hawking fish in the streets and they are often asked why they are not working in an office.
“We need to be job creators and not just job seekers,” Bahjo declared. “Job opportunities for the youth in the country are scarce. When I was at university, I thought I would become a manager in a prestigious business the day after my graduation, but I am here now earning from my labour!”
The group were trained in business skills in a five-day course provided by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)with support from the European Union. They were able to pitch a business proposal and those selected were granted$2,000 in start-up capital.
Maayo fisheries was launched with $500 and the members are working without a salary to get it going and reduce costs. Bahjo said she and her colleagues are planning to open an office in September, as business is low in the current hot season.
Abdi Rafa Botan Ahmed, a third year economics student at Red Sea University, is manager of another team of eight,whose business proposal led to a startup called One Tela, tailoring designed clothes and printing t-shirts. They bought two sewing machines and two cloth printing machines for$1,500.
They are also working without pay to build up the business and plan to buy more machines in September with $1,500 they saved from the rest of the fund and some early sales profit.
“We are injecting the profits back into the business. Currently, we print t-shirts and design corporate logos,” he said.
UNFPA’s Puntland youth and gender director, Kamal Dahir Irro, said the project aimed to reduce unemployment among university graduates.