Business Associations in Somalia trained to manage and improve their associations

The ILO, Ministry of Women and Family Affairs, Chamber of Commerce and social partners concluded a 5 day workshop on Building Women’s Entrepreneurs Associations from 21st November 2012 up to 26th November 2012 in Mogadishu.

The ILO, Ministry of Women and Family Affairs, Chamber of Commerce and social partners concluded a 5 day workshop on Building Women’s Entrepreneurs Associations from 21st November 2012 up to 26th November 2012 in Mogadishu.

The workshop held at the Peace Hotel was attended by association representatives, staff of existing associations, government officials and members of the private sector. It focused on training associations members and potential trainers of trainers on how building the management and service capacities of association leaders and staff, and on strengthening their ability to serve their women members. These activities form part of the EU funded project “Supporting the promotion of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment,” where the ILO and social partners concentrated on fundamental exercises on gender and business associations.

ILO focused on strengthening women’s entrepreneurship development through associations. The specific objectives were to create awareness regarding gender inequalities faced by the diversity of women entrepreneurs; ensure women have greater access to representation and voice in their business affairs; guide women in the formation and management of member based associations; build the administrative, organisational, technical and financial capacities of new and existing associations and to promote linkages with other key private sector actors.

The training was participatory and interactive with ample time to understand the principles, concepts and frameworks in the training modules. Facilitators ensured that everyone got an equal opportunity to participate. Through active listening and good questioning, they demonstrated that each person's contribution is valuable. Facilitators helped participants to develop communication skills by promoting discussion. Activities such as role play and case studies were used to explore different points of view.

At the end of the workshop, participants reiterated their appreciation and usefulness of the training. The Director General from the Ministry of Gender, Mr. Mohamed Omar Nur emphasised the position and role of women in society from an Islamic perspective and stressed on aspects of women’s political, legal and economic role while substantiating his arguments with sufficient historical evidence of Muslim women participation in the choice of rulers, in public issues, in lawmaking, political affairs, and administrative positions and in scholarship and teaching.

The following are recommendations from the workshop:

For future training/Women Entrepreneurs Associations (WEAs) component:
  • Extend the opportunity for training to other women’s associations.
  • Organise modular training workshop with extended period covering project proposal writing, leadership skills for women and strategic planning.
  • Specific attention is paid to nomination of at least three members from each association with different levels of knowledge from different areas/backgrounds to further enhance learning among the participants.
  • The process of support to the WEAs is designed to follow a sequence that would result in accreditation of trainers in delivering WEAs.
  • The accreditation process is envisioned in a series of steps to allow trainers to gain practical experience and increase their knowledge and skills to train locally, nationally and internationally. In addition to the training of trainers, which equips them with tools to effectively carry out training of entrepreneurs using WEAs program, the trainers will be expected to conduct a number of training workshops for WEAS, and also promote and market the program to their institutions as well as other institutions.
  • A package of all relevant training materials related to the ILO WEAs guide to be prepared and translated Somali language.

For future trainings/socio-economic component:

Integrate into training:
  • Training of Trainers or presentation skills for association leaders.
  • Involvement of youth in associations.
  • Links with microfinance intermediaries during the training (bringing them in for business plan presentations, to make presentations on their own microfinance services).
  • A session on business group formations (formal and/or informal) including transport cooperatives, and input cooperatives.
For future trainings/gender component, trainers to be encouraged to:
  • Use case studies and examples that are evidence-based and build on what women and men business associations are actually doing in the local context.
  • Ensure that the perspectives on gender relations move beyond depicting women as victims (only) and men as perpetrators of violence (only) as can often be the perspective applied in conflict settings.
  • Avoid representations of men’s and women’s roles in crises as adversarial, and present the advantages to men, families and communities of women’s empowerment for reconstruction, rehabilitation and change.
  • Focus on power imbalances reflected in the gender roles of women and men across class, ethnicity, religion and national struggles in conflict and post-conflict periods as well as beyond; and
  • There is sufficient gender, social and economic assessments regarding the local context (gender analysis, institutional mapping of service providers and their approaches to women economic empowerment, gender-specific needs, etc.) reflected in the planning.