Young Somali Innovators getting Future Ready

Posted November 5, 2018

Photo:UNDP Somalia

Gifted young Somalis are learning ways to turn their innovative ideas and development solutions into start-ups and social enterprises. A new initiative called ‘Future Ready’ is providing valuable training opportunities to help young Somali men and women realize their dreams of making it in the high-tech industry.

Future Ready promotes entrepreneurship and careers in science. It taps into the talents of youth and helps build their capacities to find technical solutions to the challenges they face, including new and innovative ways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It gives young people a chance to gain hands-on experience and training in software development and coding, and hone their creative and critical thinking skills, and it raises their awareness of career and business opportunities in science and technology. The initiative involves students in designing and building their first app to solve real-world development challenges. The business training component covers entrepreneurial skills needed to get tech projects off the ground and start up social or business enterprises.

Now, meet four Future Ready young Somalis

Nimo Abdirahman, a 23-year-old student of Computer Science at the University of Hargeisa participated in Future Ready at the encouragement of the Dean of her college.

With her team, she built an app for an online grocery store service that makes it easier for customers to get fresh vegetables and fruit, by ordering online and having the products delivered to their homes. “Our Adeege Online Fruit and Vegetables app benefits customers and retailers alike,” explains Nimo. “Customers save travel time and get fresher and healthier produce. And, grocery store owners reach out to a larger and more diverse range of customers. The App helps other people and the local economy too as it creates jobs in delivery.”

Future Ready helped Nimo gain practical technical skills and develop transferable skills in critical thinking. “The ‘learning by doing’ approach we followed was great for my computer skills,” she says, “but the course also showed us new ways of thinking about challenges. These different ways of thinking may be even more valuable in the long run.”

Mustafe Adan, 23, is also studying Computer Science at the University of Hargeisa. He joined Future Ready to expand entrepreneurial opportunities in the digital world. after graduation.

His team designed the Hargeisa Water Management System App — Hawamsy for short. The app enables customers to pay their bills and request help with technical problems online, without having to go to the water agency. “Connecting customers directly with the water authority helps boost efficiency of water services,” says Mustafe. “Future Ready has given me confidence and training in app design. Now I think about app solutions and business opportunities 24/7! And, I am confident that I can see my ideas through to success.

Abdimajid Salah is a 26 years old Somali, born in Saudi Arabia, who has been living in Hargeisa since 2012. He works in technical support for an IT company in Hargeisa, while finishing his final year computer science studies at New Generation University in Hargeisa. “I’ve been into IT since I was really young,” he says, “I joined future Ready to develop my ideas and benefit the community at large.”

“I worked with Mustafe on the Hawamsy App and I hope it will make a big difference in water management in this city,” he adds. “It is especially effective for customers who suffer shortages of water and plumbing problems that they need fixed urgently.

Sarah Mohamed is an Information technology graduate from Admas University in Hargeisa.

Her Future Ready team designed an Urban Waste App to help households find the right recycling solution-provider to collect their domestic waste.

“Our app sought out a challenge — a problem that people might not even recognise as a problem,” says Sarah. “Future Ready helped us think a bit outside the box and look at challenges as opportunities.” The team identified waste disposal as a challenge and started looking at ways to address it sustainably through digital technology. “This app will help tackle the major problem of waste in Hargeisa by putting households in touch with recycling plants,” asserts Sarah. “it also raises awareness among users of the importance of protecting the environment and of local organizations that are advocating for that.”

As part of its wider commitment to helping Somali communities develop cadres of highly skilled and engaged innovators and job-ready recruits with skills suited to the economy of the 21st century, UNDP partners with Somali government counterparts and with Microsoft and Somali non-profit Shaqodoon, to implement this initiative.”. UNDP aims to expand Future Ready into a large-scale programme that will reach many more aspiring young Somali innovators, both women and men, over the next five years.

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