Fleeing conflict in Somalia and in Yemen: Muna Mohamed’s story
37-year-old Muna Mohamed Muse proudly attends to customers coming to her grocery store in Hargeisa, Somaliland. The cabbages, onions, tomatoes, carrots and lemons, fabric and confectionery she has spread out at her shop are sourced from the Borama region and some of the vegetables from Ethiopia.
Muna, married with seven children, is a Somali Returnee. She fled Somaliland in 2007 during the conflict in her home country and lived in Yemen until 2015. “It feels like my family is always running away from conflict,” says Muna who left Yemen when the conflict broke out in that country as well. Her family left Aden and came by ship through the port of Berbera and spent their first night at Geedi Hotel in Hargeisa.
“I had a successful sweet and bakery business in Yemen. We were able to make some profit and make some good income. Settling down in Hargeisa was difficult as I had been away for 8 years.”
Through UNHCR, Muna heard about support from Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) for potential business owners. She applied to receive a grant and received USD $1,320. She used this money as capital for the grocery shop that she has now set up in Hargeisa. Muna received the grant after a 3-day entrepreneurship training conducted by AAH-I, with support from UNHCR, held at Peaceful Coexistence Center in February 2017.
“I am happy that I can now support myself and my family. I am earning an average of USD $300 per month, and saving about USD $3 every day. This comfortably covers our rent, electricity and daily expenses,” says Muna.
According to data from UNHCR, 21.3 million of these displaced people are refugees, 29% of them hosted in Africa. The majority of people fleeing the crisis in Yemen have settled in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.
Muna showcases the benefits of this type of grants for refugees and returnees – building credit-worthiness, the creation of employment for fellow refugees and host community members and the stimulation of the local economy through expansion and diversification of businesses. For those refugees with entrepreneurial experience or talent, small business loans are one way of getting them integrated back into normal life.