IDP women in Somaliland build new lives through savings and loan scheme

A rotating savings and loan scheme run by women in a camp for internally displaced families in the Somaliland capital Hargeisa has provided jobs for more than 100 women over the past year and a half.

The scheme in Mohamed-Moge camp in Hargeisa with 149 female members is run by a group called Hawen-Kab. Since its inception, the group has funded 119 women and groups of women to set up small businesses. Every two months three to four members receive a small grant from the group’s kitty.

Farduus Abdi Mohamed, a mother of five, invested $380 to open a restaurant not far from the camp earlier this year. The steady profit has enabled her to build an iron-sheet house in the camp and to enroll her two daughters and two sons in school at monthly fees of $12.

She earns around 40,000 Somaliland shillings (five dollars) a day from the restaurant. Out of that she puts in 10,000 to the rotating savings scheme (hagbad) and uses the rest for the family’s basic needs and school fees for her children.

Farduus and her family fled Daroor village in Ethiopia’s Somali regional State after severe drought which killed their 300 goats in 2009.

She told Radio Ergo they used to depend on food distributed by aid agencies but she is now the provider.

“The formation of this group has changed a lot in our lives. Some women who are members of this group sell charcoal, and others run restaurants or shops, so a majority of the members are now working,” she said.

During the group’s Friday meetings, the women contribute amounts between 1,000 and 10,000 shillings. The more you put in, the more you can take out as a loan.

According to the chairperson, Anab Sheikh Guleid, all you need to benefit is to join the group and develop a business idea.

“We formed this group to help one another. We all save some money,” said Anab, one of the group’s three founders.

Anab runs her own shop after being supported by the scheme. Having lived in the camps since 2013, she now plans to move out next February after saving enough money.

Khadija Mohamed Ali, a mother of nine (seven daughters and two sons) received an investment loan of two million shillings ($380) in July to set up a vegetable business.

She transports vegetables from farms near Hargeisa to sell in Wahen market, making a profit of around 100,000 shillings a month – enough to support her family and pay for her children’s education.

“I was financially unstable so that’s why I joined the group. Working is better than being jobless. Now I support the children and wake up every day early for work,” she said.

She plans to build a two-room iron-sheet house on land in Maslaha neighbourhood on a plot given to her by her children’s uncle. In August, she transferred her six children from a school in the camp to Riis primary school in the town, paying three dollars per child.

Khadija and her family left Dabagoriyaale village in Gashamo district after the area was hit by drought in 2013.

Mohamed Moge IDP camp, formed in 2008, houses 1,500 families displaced by drought in rural parts of Hargeisa, Gashamo and other areas. It has two iron-sheet Koranic classrooms and a primary school with four classrooms.

It has no borehole, forcing residents to buy water from tankers at eight shillings a barrel (eight US cents). Only 300 families get food aid from the UN’s food agency WFP, according to Abokor Ismail, the camp chairperson.

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