Livestock and agriculture production is the backbone of the Somali economy. Livestock, such as camels and goats, is the main income source for pastoralist and most agro-pastoralist households. Cash crop production is becoming an increasingly important source of income as many pastoralists move into agro-pastoralism. More unpredictable and challenging climatic conditions for livestock and agriculture production, lack of infrastructure and equipment for food processing, difficult access to markets, limited access to credits and new technology, and internal displacement are some of the factors that limit rural households possibilities to increase their income. In addition to activities that improve livestock and agriculture production, the Development Fund supports farmers’ cooperatives to develop business plans. Through the cooperatives, the farmers enhance their bargaining power and they can gain access to credits or other incentives that strengthen their access to credits. Cooperatives enable farmers to engage in processing of agriculture and livestock products, and by increasing their share of the value chain farmers’ have better possibilities to generate more income.
Women in rural areas in Somalia have few income sources. While many women engage in agriculture and livestock, they rarely get the earnings from sale of livestock and crops. As many women have to take care of their domestic duties, including fetching of water and firewood, cooking and child care, they have limited possibilities to engage in activities outside the household. To strengthen women’s possibilities to generate their own income sources, the Development Fund supports the organisation of women in saving and loan groups, and cooperatives. We provide training in management of the groups, training in entrepreneurship and development of small business plans and provide additional seed funds to women who can access credits to start small businesses. The businesses may be on individual basis, or several women go together to set up businesses such as mills or processing of dairy products. In addition to contributing to women’s economic empowerment, saving and loan groups and cooperatives are important meeting places where women can discuss common challenges, create awareness and support each other to reduce gender based violence and harmful traditional practices such as FGM. By managing their own businesses, women also gain social respect at household and community level, and they can demonstrate their capacities beyond housekeeping.
In collaboration with Somali diaspora in Norway, we also promote technical innovation and job creation in emerging sectors, such as clean energy. We have developed a mentor-programme, where Somali diaspora provide technical capacity building and advisory to youth that wish to engage in business development. We also provide vocational and entrepreneurship training for youth.