Galkayo, when artisan enterprise creates jobs and promotes reconciliation

Galkayo is one of the largest cities in southern and central Somalia. For years, the city has been in a state of armed conflict. Nonetheless, Galkayo is the largest market for livestock in the horn of Africa. The ILO, in partnership with FAO and Terre Solidali, has led an initiative of improving livelihoods of vulnerable people in Galkayo through a project funded by the European Union.

A Production Center in Galkayo creates employment and promotes economic growth
Galkayo is one of the largest cities in southern and central Somalia. It is the capital city of Mudug region. For years, the city has been in a state of armed conflict caused by the continued clan hostilities in the city. The city itself is divided along a north-south partition, with the northern part of the town being claimed by Puntland administration and the southern part by Galmudug authorities. Both administrations consider themselves to be federal divisions with the larger federal state of Somalia.

Recently, there have been increased violence and assassinations in the city and this civil insecurity affects all wealth groups, causing displacement, loss of lives and property and a high rate of unemployment.

Despite these challenges, Galkayo is the largest market for livestock in the horn of Africa, a sector that provides food and income to over 60% of Somali Population. It has created a strong trade network of domestic produce (cereals and fruits coming north) as well as imported goods. Economic interdependence of geographical markets across the region is formed with linkages in the town to Afmadow, Dinsor and Bardere, Mogadishu Beletweyn and even Garissa Kenya to the south and then Buroa, Bossaso, Berbara to the north; often via Somali regions of Ethiopia. With these commodities flows, employment and labour migration issues emerged and, as a result, economic challenges and opportunities radiated.

A win for neglected vulnerable groups
In partnership with FAO and Terre Solidali, the International Labour Organisation, ILO, has led an initiative of improving livelihoods of vulnerable people in Galkayo through a project funded by the European Union. -“Improvement of livelihood of vulnerable households in urban and peri-urban areas of Galkayo.”.

A critical element the ILO has promoted the employment generated from growth-oriented Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with development potential; reinforcing the goal of the project. A local economic development (LED) forum, supported by the ILO but led by local business stakeholders, and the municipality stressed the need to support local artisans engaged in the production of goods and services. “Although we knew the artisans needed support, development assistance in Galkayo targeted elsewhere. ILO’s assessments on local economy and small scale economic sectors offered us reliable and relevant information. We have just realized that artisan enterprise is an essential, but untapped, area that does not only provide jobs and income to the poor people, but promotes communication, reconciliation and empowerment of divided communities. We need to move away from import dependency into more locally-driven substitution programme” said by the Mayor of Galkayo North, Ahmed Ali Salad.
Mohamed Ayanle in his shop where he repairs mobiles, radios, TVs and sells mobile accessories

The production center provides visible and reliable business outlets to 140 artisans. Welders, blacksmiths, furniture makers, shoe makers, ICT repairers, service centers, maintenance fitters and logo designers mainly benefit from this project. Mohamed Ayanle repairs mobiles, radios, TVs and sells mobile accessories. He says “we were disorganized, individualized and scattered all around the town. We used to move from one location (open air), to another as landlords kick us out. We lost our customers. Now, everyone has a permanent space to trade. Municipality gave us six-month business licensing exemptions. We are making money...Alhamdulillah”

A permanent work station for the artisans within the center is not enough to stimulate and expand industry. The product quality is not up to the satisfactory standards. This adversely affects the selling price as well as quantities purchased. Good quality training combining technical acumen with innovative businesses practice to carve out market niches is essential. Fatima Yunis, a tailor in fashion designs for young ladies, protests against lack of financial credit to procure sizeable garments.
 “I am a mother of 5 children. I am also the bread winner of the family. My husband is crippled as a result of the civil war. I am faced with financial difficulties while trying to expand my business in the formal market. No one knew my new locations and I was unable to meet my family obligations. My business colleagues and I formed a rotating saving group (“Hagbed”). I was then able to access some form of loan which I deposited with the supplier to acquire a variety of garments. My business is now growing and I am supporting my family”

Farhiya Yusuf Hersi who heads up MMDO speaks after visiting the beneficiaries of the centre
Beneficiaries of the production centre have included vulnerable groups supported by a local organisation, Mudug Minority development Organization, brought in by ILO to supplement and use the ILO’s institutional knowledge on business support work. In liaison with the project’s LED forum and the municipality, MMDO organized workshops for the artisans to articulate the skills they want to acquire. Farhiya Yusuf Hersi who heads up MMDO and a two time councillor, says “artisans continue to use the same methods they have always used. With ILO support, we want to support new skills for the development of high quality and competitive products”
Encouraged by this development, the municipality wants to transform Xero Dayax Compound, an old military base at the heart of the town, into a business center. The mayor, Ahmed Ali Salad asserts that “Getting the right mix of artisans and traders is the key to success while avoiding overpopulation of petty trade. As artisans co-locate, we observe exchange of experience, collaboration and communication happening. We want them to consider their purchase to be “art or craft”. We want to bring artisan enterprise to scale, in partnership with the ILO and other development partners”

Abdulkadir Ali, ILO’s project Manager, shows positive optimism in the potential of sustainable work opportunities of artisan industry in Galkayo. “I am sure that improving competences and capabilities of artisan industry will not only generate employment to the artisans, but it will further ensure value additions to other sectors igniting local economic growth. This sector could also be an important employment avenue for many new job seekers either leaving from formal school or agro-pastoral communities migrating to the towns in search of work. Far too many of these become engaged with criminal activities if we do not support people like the Mayor to create jobs contributing to the town’s development. The EU saw this need and although Galkayo is a difficult place to work, the rewards are there and we are now realising results we can build on with local government and local businesses. I am very optimistic thanks to the people we have already supported making a difference by not being selfish”.