More than a dozen Somali businesses participated in the Somali Rising booth at Gulfood, the world’s largest food and beverage trade exposition. The 2019 show marked the third consecutive year that USAID, through the Growth, Enterprise, Employment, and Livelihoods (GEEL) project, facilitated participation by Somali businesses with export-ready products. The five-day event (17-21 February) is estimated to have drawn more than 98,000 visitors including importers, traders, and investors from around the globe.
The Somali Rising booth was among more than 5,000 world-class exhibitors at the show, and featured products including bananas, limes, sesame, frankincense, and fish, as well as other fruits, vegetables, pulses, and resins. All participating businesses currently have capacity to export their products from Somalia, and some returned to Gulfood with the Somali Rising delegation for the second or third year as a result of the show’s positive impact on growth and revenue.
Khadar Osman of Jubba Management and Business Consultants said, “Since last year’s [trade] show, I’ve increased exports of lemons. I shipped more than 78 containers of dried lemons and 34 containers of sesame seeds.” By the end of the 2019 show, Khadar confirmed orders from new customers for three containers of limes, or more than 30,000 kilos. Visitors to the Somali Rising booth are estimated in the hundreds, including interested buyers from the Emirates, South Africa, and Asia.
Export networking is crucial to growth for the Somali economy. The Gulfood platform facilitates direct business opportunities for participants and advertises the availability and viability of Somali goods and trade opportunities to an enormous audience. Exports are a strategic focus of the GEEL project, which supports Somali businesses to achieve or grow their export potential. Market linkages are an important element of this support, and the Gulfood trade expo offers several days of high-impact networking for Somali businesses among seasoned and serious international traders.
This year’s Somali Rising participants have high hopes for the show’s impact on their exports and revenue, following a reported $4 million in combined export earnings by the 2018 delegation. Abshir Awale of Mudug Fishery and Marine Resource Trading Company said, “We are very excited to participate in the Gulfood show… We are happy for the contacts we’ve made and look forward to increasing out business.” Attendees also recognize the importance of this and similar events for the Somali economy more broadly. Najma Leylani of SomFresh stated, “I’m very excited about the potential for growth and future opportunities for employment within Somalia. As a young woman in agriculture I can’t wait to expand our business even further!”
The Somali Rising booth was organized by the Growth, Enterprise, Employment & Livelihoods (GEEL) Project, a USAID- funded initiative that works with government partners and the private sector to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Somalia. The project builds the capacity of internal investors with a focus on value chains conducive to participation by demographics marginalized from pursuing economic opportunities, especially women and youth. Priority value chains include livestock and dairy, fish, agriculture, and energy. Increased exports are a strategic focus of GEEL activities as an important means of economic growth and development.