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Silatech, Kaah Express and the ARC will jointly design and introduce a new micro finance services program with the objective of providing financial access and stimulating economic development within Somalia.
In line with its efforts to develop innovative job
creation and enterprise development solutions for youth across the 22
countries of the Arab world, Silatech has recently signed a
collaboration agreement with Kaah Express, one of the largest money
transfer businesses serving the Somali community worldwide, and the
American Refugee Committee (ARC), an international NGO fighting poverty
and unemployment through humanitarian relief work, youth employment and
small business development programs.
Silatech, Kaah Express and the ARC will jointly design and introduce a
new microfinance services program with the objective of providing
financial access and stimulating economic development within Somalia.
This project has also been given a recent boost by Kaah Express being
selected as the winner of a development grant by the African Enterprise
Challenge Fund, a multi donor initiative aimed at stimulating new and
innovative business ideas among the private sector in Africa.
With assistance from Silatech and the ARC, Kaah Express will offer a
diversified set of microfinance services, including enterprise credit
and savings accounts, with a priority focus on low income youth and
women in both urban and rural areas in Somalia. These
services will be provided through Kaah Express's existing national network of branches and hundreds of local agents.
Given that Somalia faces some of the lowest levels of
access to formal financial services in the world, the vast majority of
users of these services will be the previously unbanked.
The new services will seek to combine financial service provision
with the offering of a robust package of financial education, life
skills, and enterprise development training to improve the ability of
Kaah's clients to make informed and measured decisions about their
Given the increasingly positive outlook of Somalia and the
relative stability in many parts of the country, the partners see a
strong window of opportunity for the introduction of these new services.
"This commitment signals our goal to become the first large-scale
commercially viable microfinance provider in Somaliland/Somalia. In
light of poor socio-economic conditions and limited economic
opportunities, the link between unemployment
and conflict in Somalia remains significant, despite the
recent progress we have seen. There is a dire need to tackle these
challenges through new and innovative solutions, and the time for that
is now," said Kaah Express CEO Hassan Awad.
On the partnership, Silatech Director of Microenterprise Justin Sykes
said "In a country where the penetration of formal financial services
is in single figures, and youth unemployment is above 70 percent, the
provision of microfinance services through this potentially game
changing approach will provide Somalis with the resources to help them
create sustainable self-employment and business creation opportunities."
"Silatech has worked on providing similar services to unbanked but
entrepreneurial youth in 10 countries around the MENA region through its
partnerships with financial institutions, NGOs, businesses and various
youth-serving organizations, with very promising results so far. This
comes at a very critical time, with the Arab world experiencing a
shortage of employment opportunities for young people, and with the
private sector unable to grow fast enough," added Sykes.
"For ARC, the introduction of sustainable financial services offers
an excellent complement to the humanitarian and development work which
we are carrying out on the ground in Somalia, particularly as
we are witnessing the shift from dependence to self-reliance in many
communities, as they are starting to feel safer and more hopeful for the
first time in a generation," said ARCs CEO Daniel Wordsworth.
"Furthermore, given the strong and active partnership ARC has with
the Somali diaspora, we see significant opportunities to mobilize their
support for this exciting project thorough the provision of investment,
business training or simply advice to youth and women who want to start
small business projects back in Somalia," he added.
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