WorldRemit founder Ismail Ahmed launches Sahamiye Foundation to
tackle Somaliland’s development challenges and unlock entrepreneurial
● Ismail Ahmed will seek to commit $500 million of his own wealth and investments over the
next 10 years to Somaliland-focused development programmes.
● Sahamiye Foundation will aim to double Somaliland’s literacy rate to 90% by 2023.
London and Hargeisa, 7 April 2021 – A team led by WorldRemit founder Ismail Ahmed has today
launched Sahamiye Foundation, a philanthropic organisation focused on using technology and
innovation to tackle Somaliland’s most pressing development challenges.
Over the next 10 years, Ismail Ahmed’s ambition is to be able to commit $500 million of his own wealth
and investments to Somaliland-focused development programmes.
The Foundation, based in London and Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital, will initially focus on education,
healthcare and infrastructure projects across Somaliland. The Foundation seeks to help over 1 million
adults and young people acquire literacy skills in the Somali language and double Somaliland’s literacy
rate from 45% to 90% by 2023. The Foundation will support over 100,000 people to develop technical
and vocational skills for employment and entrepreneurship; invest in start-up accelerators; and increase
levels of health and financial literacy across the country’s population.
The Foundation has already unveiled a series of major education programmes: Daariz, a free, fun and
easy-to-use app that helps people with low literacy skills to learn the Somali language; Books for
Change, which provides one million low-priced books every year; and Resources for Schools, a suite
of digital and print educational resources designed for schools and colleges. To support Somaliland’s
response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to date, Ismail Ahmed has donated $1 million worth of PPE and
COVID-19 laboratory testing equipment and kit to strengthen the country’s capacity and support
healthcare workers across the country.
Situated on the Horn of Africa, Somaliland is home to around 4.5 million people. In the absence of
formal recognition, Somaliland has adopted an innovative approach to building its own institutions that
are optimised for the specific challenges that the country faces. However, in choosing to move away
from traditional solutions offered by the aid sector, Somaliland has received very little development
assistance. Innovative development finance solutions are required to overcome the barriers that
Somaliland faces, going beyond the traditional models of donor funding and towards a more
entrepreneurial, scale-up approach that focuses on building capacity, capabilities and skills that will
generate solutions to the country’s challenges from within.
Drawing on Ismail Ahmed’s experience and background in building and scaling a globally successful
technology company, Sahamiye Foundation will adopt a start-up philosophy and mindset to invest in
programmes that will help to overcome barriers to Somaliland’s growth and development, and to build
‘homegrown’ products and platforms.
Ismail Ahmed, founder of Sahamiye Foundation said:
“Somaliland is a nation that has built itself from the ground up, embracing technology and
entrepreneurship to make progress that was never thought possible. However, Somaliland still faces
development challenges that require significant investment to lay the foundations for economic growth,
good health and prosperity.
We believe there are clear opportunities to make a significant and meaningful impact on the lives of
Somaliland’s hopeful, ambitious and entrepreneurial people – with broader, positive impact for the
country’s future and that of the wider region.”
The launch ceremony was held in Hargeisa yesterday, April 7th 2021, attended by many prominent figures.
The vice-president of Somaliland Abdirahman Saylici attended and spoke at the event, praising this groundbreaking project.
The goals are ambitious and there will no doubt by many challenges along the way. How will the literacy rate be doubled in two years? Most of the illiterate are from rural villages and not tech savvy so how will they learn using a smartphone app? The Ministry of Education will have to step up to the plate and support Sahamiye Foundation as they will not be able to do it alone. We most certainly applaud Ismail Ahmed and will be closely following progress. It is much needed good, morale boosting news for Somaliland after a tough start to the year (drought in many parts of the country and the spread of Covid 19).
For more information, refer to the key links below: