Somaliland:Sagaljet On the frontline of Innovation
By Gulaid Dalha
Hargeisa – Somali Commentator – SAGAL JET Company, Somaliland’s largest full-service provider of print and related services, was founded in 2007. The company covers a wide variety of private and public sectors having thousands of customers. Headquartered in Hargeisa, the company employs more than 100 employees. Although Sagal Jet has printing operations outside Somaliland borders, it generates most of its revenue in Somaliland territory. The company provides both personalized and publicized printed items. Products and services of Sagal Jet Company include: ( Printing t-shirts, flags, 3D signboards, business cards, brochures, leaflets, mugs, stamps, invitation cards, ID cards, bill boards, banners, posters, banner stands, books and other items. The company serves local, regional and nation companies encompassing diverse industries.
In 2015, the veteran journalist Abdisalan Hereri interviewed one of the shareholders of Sagal Jet Company Abdi Yusuf Aar who is also the Chief Executive Officer. Below is the full interview.
STARTING UP SAGALJET
The reporter: When did you establish SagalJet?
Mr Aar: Sagal Jet Company printing and advertisement was established in 2007 in Hargeisa. Prior to the establishment, we had made studies and critical analysis on the most appropriate business that Somaliland was in dire need at that time. We found out that a printing company would be the most indispensable thing that would be suitable for the country. People used to depart to Dubai and neighboring countries when they needed to print something.
Hereri: Could you us a clue how the situation looked like at that time.
Aar: Before 2007, the country was in rapid growth and days were continuously changing. All the facilities that are abundant today were scarce and seldom found. Likewise, printing and advertisement services were utterly small. There was another problem – people did not have any idea on the system as a whole. People used to travel to Kenya and Dubai to print a board or similar item. I had experienced the same situation. I needed to print something and sent my demand to Dubai. Unfortunately, what I required mismatched the item they sent me. The facilities are ubiquitous today but keep in mind at that time, for example, in 2005, all the candidates running for the election had printed their items in abroad. As I have already mentioned, there were many things that pushed us create this unique company for the country. For instance, the existing problem was the lack of printing machines and the necessity of the people of such services. Taking all these aspects into consideration, we launched the company.
CHALLENGES IN THE STARTING UP PROCESS
Hereri: Launching such a great company has many challenges which are always ahead. For example, customer satisfaction and task implementation. From the beginning how did you tackle those tasks?
Aar: Literally, we made hard work, dedication and unwavering determination. People had no idea about the advertisement at all. They thought it money wasting. For them to learn such dramatic changes, we gave them the services in gratis. We came across many challenges including customers. We had not expert employees who could efficiently work on the machines – absolutely we had no technicians.
Hereri: How many employees did you start up with the company?
Aar: They were less than five in number.
Hereri: Did you establish sub-branches throughout Somaliland or you particularly focused on Hargeisa?
Aar: Previously we put the greatest emphasis on the capital city of Somaliland, Hargeisa. We had also agents in all regions. There were two problems; first of all, the exact thing was not designed or printed due the absence of the customer and secondly as we convey or send back the things, services were too procrastinated.
To tackle such problems, we inaugurated new offices from Burao and Borama. All the necessary facilities and accessibilities are currently both feasible and available.
EMPLOYEE SKILL AND QUALIFICATIONS
Hereri: As this was a new innovation in Somaliland, how did you get the skilful employees for such dramatic work?
Aar: Of course, that was an existing issue. When we tried to hire experts to set up the machines, they saw Somaliland and Somalia the same as where no peace and stability existed. It was really so difficult to hire someone. But we had also the idea of learning the skill quickly, we thought to avoid seeing the reluctance of the experts. Now we have expert engineers, technicians and other skillful employees. I am pleased that these Somali employees are very exuberant and rigorous – they remove every defect from the working machines.
THE ROLE OF SAGALJET ON JOB CREATION AND EMPLOYMENT
Hereri: There is an immense joblessness in Somaliland. Does Sagal Jet company play a great role on that existing problem? How many employees currently work for the company?
Aar: To begin with, in Hargeisa, we have more than 50 employees. Sagal Jet has employed many citizens and play a major role in job creation. We have so many employees throughout the country. Similarly, there are many people who benefitted the services we provide. For example, they come to us. Sagal Jet prints them their demands acting as wholesalers and they provide their customers back in retail.
Hereri: What advice and recommendation would you like to give a young Somali person who is interested in business?
Aar: For the last 15 years, I have been working on the field of business. I would like to suggest such person to consider several points – let me dash some; he/she should critically analyze whether the business is required or not. Considering the market competition is an important point which needs to be taken into account. Are you the qualified person having the necessary experience and knowledge on the specific business you have chosen? Have you required capital investment?
I would also like to point out one very crucial point – continuation. With the existence of hardships and challenges, be dedicated to the task. Be patient, at last it will be fruitful. Somali people regularly fickle their ideas – it is beyond the scope of fact to launch today and become rich tomorrow. This slogan should utterly be thrown away. Furthermore, our people do not know more about the shareholding – it is good to share your money with a partner. I would like to reiterate the vitality of the partnership – people have different ideas in the decision-making processes; one may be good at marketing; one may be good at customer satisfaction. One is famous and may bring about the attraction of many customers to the Company. So, the use of these criteria along with rules and regulations among the partners is far more superior and may cause the hugeness and productivity of the company.
Hereri: Apart from advertisement, printing and other services( Printing t-shirts, flags, 3D signboards, business cards, brochures, leaflets, mugs, stamps, invitation cards, ID cards, bill boards, banners, posters, banner stands, and so on) you print books. Do you guess that you have done everything necessary for a book being printed by your company?
Aar: Of course, previously books were printed in abroad but now book printing has become our core job and we have obviously done that task hopefully. So far we have printed many books those are read in Hargeisa and in Somaliland generally. On top of that, Sagal Jet spurs books relating Somali poems, norms and traditions. We print their books by the lowest discount. We also print some books in gratis while we invest others back. Improving the literacy of Somaliland is one of our primary goals. Our main objective is to ameliorate the loss of Somali tradition.