(http://africabusinesscommunities.com )Authorities in Somaliland, along with the World Bank, have launched the first round of funding in the Bank’s flagship job creation program, the Somali Business Catalytic Fund (SBCF). The fund will support 150 to 200 businesses, with one third of grants to businesses in Somaliland.
The first round will provide grants to 35 enterprises in Somaliland, creating 946 jobs. Approximately 3,500 jobs (of which 30% will be dedicated to women) will be created through the SBCF across the Somali peninsula by June 2018.
The SBCF operates on the basis of strict eligibility conditions and careful appraisal. It is built on the lessons of a similar fund established in Somaliland by the World Bank called the Somaliland Business Fund in 2012-2015.
“Increasing employment opportunities is at the heart of the World Bank’s work,” said Hugh Riddell, Country representative for Somalia. “Access to finance has proved to be an effective way of creating employment, increasing revenue, encouraging equity and promoting innovation”.
The purpose of the SBCF is to fund Somali businesses to support growth, increase employment and diversify in certain key sectors.
SBCF is specifically designed for businesses that focus on innovative processes, products and markets new to the region. It is also intended to stimulate the business and technical services industry to build sector expertise in agriculture, livestock and energy, among others.
Senior government officials attended the launch from the Ministry of Planning and Development, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and focal points from the Somaliland Central Bank as well as those running businesses awarded with grants.
“I am delighted to see many businessmen and women increase their productivity and create jobs through the SBCF,” said H.E. Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Minister of Planning and Development in Somaliland. “The next step is to increase female participation in the 2018 funding cycle.”
The region has a dynamic and highly entrepreneurial private sector, contributing to over 90 percent of GDP. However, constraints related to access to finance, skills shortages and limited regulatory and institutional capacity to support the financial and private sector development limit prospects of sustained growth.
This year’s drought amplified the region’s vulnerability and the urgent need for investments to enable economic recovery and employment.
The SBCF falls under the Somali Core Economic Institutions and Opportunities (SCORE) Program. SCORE is project that aims to improve the enabling environment for private and financial sector development, and catalyze private investment and create jobs in Somalia. It is funded by the World Bank’s Multi Partner Fund (MPF).
The Multi Partner Fund works predominantly through the Somali authorities and includes institution-building, economic growth and urban development activities.
MPF is supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), the European Union (EU), the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Swiss Agency for Development Co-operation (SDC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the World Bank’s State- and Peacebuilding Fund (SPF).