Kaah Express supports microfinance services in Somalia | Mar 15, 2013

Kaah Express signs pact with Silatech to pioneer microfinance services in Somali


  Officials of Silatech and Kaah Express shake hands after signing an agreement. 11:58 PM March 2013

Silatech has signed a   collaboration agreement with Kaah Express, one of the largest money   transfer businesses serving the Somali community worldwide, and American   Refugee Committee (ARC), an international NGO fighting poverty and   unemployment through humanitarian relief work, youth employment and   small business development programmes.

The move is in line with Silatech’s efforts   to develop innovative job creation and enterprise development solutions   for youth across the 22 countries of the Arab world.

Silatech, Kaah Express and ARC will jointly   design and introduce a new microfinance services programme with the   objective of providing financial access and stimulating economic   development within Somalia.

The project has been given a recent boost   when Kaah Express was selected as the winner of a development grant by   the African Enterprise Challenge Fund, a multi-donor initiative aimed at   stimulating new and innovative business ideas among the private sector   in Africa.

With assistance from Silatech and the ARC,   Kaah Express will offer a diversified set of microfinance services,   including enterprise credit and savings accounts, with a priority focus   on low-income youth and women in both urban and rural areas in Somalia.   These services will be provided through Kaah Express’s existing  national  network of branches and hundreds of local agents.

Given that Somalia faces some of the lowest   levels of access to formal financial services in the world, the vast   majority of users of these services will be the previously unbanked.

The new services will seek to combine   financial provisions with the offering of a robust package of financial   education, life skills and enterprise development training to improve   the ability of Kaah’s clients to make informed and measured decisions   about their financial needs.

Given the increasingly positive outlook of   Somalia and the relative stability in many parts of the country, the   partners see a strong window of opportunity for the introduction of   these new services.

“This commitment signals our goal to become   the first large-scale, commercially-viable microfinance provider in   Somalia. In light of poor socio-economic conditions and limited economic   opportunities, the link between unemployment and conflict in Somalia   remains significant despite the recent progress we have seen. There is a   dire need to tackle these challenges through new and innovative   solutions, and the time for that is now,” said Kaah Express CEO Hassan   Awad.

On the partnership, Silatech director of   microenterprise Justin Sykes said: “In a country where the penetration   of formal financial services is in single figures and youth unemployment   is above 70%, the provision of microfinance services through this   potentially game-changing approach will provide Somalis with the   resources to help them create sustainable self-employment and business   creation opportunities.”

“Silatech has worked on providing similar   services to unbanked but entrepreneurial youth in 10 countries around   the Mena region through its partnerships with financial institutions,   NGOs, businesses and various youth-serving organisations, with very   promising results so far. This comes at a very critical time, with the   Arab world experiencing a shortage of employment opportunities for young   people, and with the private sector unable to grow fast enough,” added   Sykes.

Daniel Wordsworth, the ARC CEO, said: “For   the ARC, the introduction of sustainable financial services offers an   excellent complement to the humanitarian and development work that we   are carrying out on the ground in Somalia, particularly as we are   witnessing the shift from dependence to self-reliance in many   communities as they start to feel safer and more hopeful for the first   time in a generation.”

“Furthermore, given the strong and active   partnership the ARC has with the Somali diaspora, we see significant   opportunities to mobilise their support for this exciting project   through the provision of investment, business training or simply advice   to youth and women who want to start small business projects back in   Somalia,” he added.