Amino Abdullahi Abdi, 46, is an Internally Displaced Person from Bu’ale, Middle Juba now living in the Port town of Kismayo in Southern Somalia. As a newly wedded young girl, Amino owned a small shop in Bu’ale that used to sell household essentials like tealeaves, salt, washing powder, and spices. The money she made from her little shop supplemented her husband’s income which allowed them to live a comfortable life. The conflict brought about by local militia prompted Amino and her family to leave home in search of safety.
“When we left, I only carried our clothes with us” Amino sadly recalls. “I left all my life back home in Bu’ale”
Life was difficult when they settled at an IDP camp in Kismayo. The family of six could barely afford food, and her husband succumbed to a short illness. Amino did odd jobs like washing clothes to be able to support her family. Being the sole breadwinner, she started several ventures, including selling peanuts and a grocery store in the streets of Kismaayo. All her attempts to sustain her small projects were futile due to the little profits and insufficient capital.
“I tried borrowing money for capital from the local village lenders, but repayment of this small loan was difficult as I often had to choose between repaying the debt and feeding my children from my earnings,” recalls Amino
It was during this period that Amino enrolled as a beneficiary of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) funded Kismayo Women Economic Empowerment Project (KWEEP). The 12-month project centered on the development of business capacities of IDPs, returnees and local community women through business skills training, value addition of business products, promotion of a saving culture by individuals and in groups, linkages for business credit from local Micro Finance Institutions (MFI) and recovery of the business stock of vulnerable women in business from Midnimo, Fanoole and Galbeed IDP camps of Kismaayo.
Through the KWEEP project, Amino joined a 10 Member Group that conducted Voluntary Saving and lending (VSL) among its members. The VSL groups encouraged savings and offered easy access to small loans to invest in the development of their small businesses. The VSL group now has opened a bank account with Amal bank. The group is also a safe space where these women can conduct group income initiatives.
Through KWEEP business startup support, Amino has also benefitted from a fridge and a stock of groceries (Bagash) for expansion of her business. “I have now diversified my business and now sell ice-cream and ice itself which is one of the most sought-after commodities in Kismaayo. I also sell various groceries in the village and now get triple the profits I used to get. “Amino fondly reports. Amino is confident that she will be able to grow her business. “I plan to expand my business and I am not worried about funds because I know I will get a loan from my Ayuto/VSL group.”