Caption: Minister for Africa, James Duddridge (left) presents Dahabshiil CEO, Abdirashid Duale with the Business of the Year award
Prime Minister David Cameron was among a group of senior MPs to publicly recognise the contribution of the Somali community to international society. Mr Cameron supported a ministerial assembly at the International Somali Awards (ISA), which were co-sponsored by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
British-Somali Olympic star, Mo Farah CBE was awarded Sports Person of the Year, while other award winners included financial services group, Dahabshiil; British film maker, Mo Ali; NGO, Adesco Africa and academic and humanitarian Hawa Jama Abdi.
In a personal message to the award winners Mr Cameron wrote: “Despite the hardships and challenges they have faced, many Somalis, both within Somalia and across the worldwide diaspora have achieved incredible success in fields as varied as business, academia and sport. I know that for many people around the world, one of the defining moments of the London Olympics in 2012 came courtesy of a man born in Mogadishu: the great Mo Farah.
“But what I find more remarkable is that Mo’s story is actually just one example of the dedication shown by so many within the Somali community. So to each winner I say this: It is your hard work, creativity, courage and leadership that has brought you here; many congratulations for all you have achieved.”
Speaking at the event, James Duddridge, Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office declared Britain’s strong commitment to strengthening Somali security forces and expanding DFID’s economic development programme.
DFID’s bilateral aid programme to Somalia has now reached £105m a year, of which £40m is in the form of humanitarian aid. Its economic development programme has provided, amongst other things over 1000 loans to entrepreneurs with 99% repayment rate as of January 2015, creating over 15,000 long-term jobs. DFID has also created One-Stop Business Centres in Somaliland to ease the cost of doing business.
Mr Duddridge said: “Britain is the only EU member state with an embassy in Mogadishu. We are the leading donor to a new World Bank and UN capacity building programme, providing support to selected government ministries.”
The ISA pays tribute to inspiring Somali success stories from all walks of life, and recognises inspirational role models from the fields of business, social work, sports, education and entertainment.
Commenting on his award recognition Mo Farah said: “It is an honour to be recognised by the International Somali Awards for my sporting achievements. The Awards are an important opportunity to celebrate the inspiring stories of people from around the world. Somalia has created some truly remarkable people and it is time we acknowledge their efforts.”
The Somali community is perhaps most renowned for its entrepreneurialism and business aptitude. Companies such as Dahabshiil and Efritin.com have led the way in social entrepreneurship and fostering job creation in the Somali region. However, supporting opportunities for women and girls was announced by Minister Duddridge as a new priority for DFID’s aid programme. This message was endorsed by Abdirashid Duale, CEO of Dahabshiil, which was awarded Business of the Year.
Mr Duale said: “At the core of our business is a strong desire to bring financial services to previously unbanked, marginalised and financially excluded communities. This extends to the role of women and girls in the workplace and wider community, which is critical to social development. We see every day, the incredible women who work within our organisation as well as those we support through small business loans and youth mentoring programmes.
“With increased cooperation, collaboration and communication with the international community we will see an even better, brighter future with expanded social entrepreneurship opportunities, and ultimately the creation of more jobs.”
Mahmoud Shire, manager of the International Somali Awards, commented: “The International Somali Awards was about recognising the outstanding contributions of the Somali community. By celebrating the fantastic achievements and honouring the hard work of today’s role models, we hope to encourage the next generation to think big by inspiring them to chase their own dreams.”
Award winners International Somali Awards 2016:
- Business of the Year – Dahabshiil Group
- Most Effective Initiative of the Year – Adesco Africa
- Sports Person of the Year – Mo Farah CBE
- Best Entertainment Award – Mo Ali
- Highest Educational Achiever – Hawa Jama Abdi