UN pledges to help Somali young innovators develop dairy industry

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

The United Nations and Somalia on Tuesday pledged to help young entrepreneurs develop technological solutions for the dairy industry in the country.

Speaking at the end of a seven-day Social Innovation Camp that ended in Mogadishu, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Peter de Clercq challenged the youth to come up with practical solutions to social and economic issues facing the country.

According to a statement from the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), De Clercq expressed his satisfaction with the ideas presented, saying it was testimony that simple and innovative ideas can be used to address real local problems.

“We have to see how we can support people like you with all these amazing ideas and see how we can push forward and put them into practice and make them contribute to the economy of this country,” he said, pledging continued UN support.

The UN-backed first ever “Innovate for Somalia” social innovation camp brought together 40 young Somali men and women who brainstormed on best business ideas to improve the dairy industry.

The participants received mentorship and incubation support from UNDP to help firm up their business ideas.

The social innovation event is being run by two ministries is part of a series of innovation camps which will be held across Somalia and which will give young Somalis between the ages of 19 -30 a chance to come up with innovative solutions to address development challenges in Somalia.

Somalia’s Minister for Planning, Investment and Economic Development, Gamal Hassan lauded participants for their innovative drive, pledging more support to ensure their proposals become reality.

“We have been working with the UN in Somalia to make sure that together we give you an opportunity to come up with solutions and ideas that can benefit the country and all of us. We are together in this and we will give you all the support that you need,” Hassan stated.

Over the next three months, participants will receive mentorship and incubation support from UNDP to help firm up their business ideas.

“The next three months we will be in the incubation phase, transforming these ideas into businesses and developing their business models. It will be followed by a pitching event for investors,” said Sherif El Tokali from UNDP Innovate Somalia.

The Innovation Camp, the first of its kind to be held in Somalia, focused on the dairy industry – a sector critical to the country’s economic growth, but that still struggles with many challenges such as poor storage facilities, disease outbreaks and lack of animal feed that prevent the industry to reach its full potential.

The business proposals presented will be fine-tuned with the help of experts before being implemented as workable solutions.

The skills learned during the Camp, such as design thinking, creative problem solving, prototyping and testing, will be valuable transferable skills that can be used to advance the dairy industry, as well as other sectors in Somalia.

Such initiatives enable Somali Youth to focus on local solutions, helping them to create jobs and to support economic development.

Source – Xinhua