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Activating the Private Sector at the Somalia Committed to Good Summit

By Iman Shawwa
Committed to Good Summit Alice speaking

Alice Laugher, CTG CEO

In November, over 100 stakeholders gathered at Chelsea Village, Mogadishu, for the annual Committed to Good Summit. Now in its second year, the 2019 summit brought together all echelons of the Somali private and public sectors including guests from the Somali Government, United Nations, Somali education system, Ambassadors, Civil Society as well as Somali business leaders. The summit aimed to mobilise and coordinate the private sector’s commitment towards the realisation of the 2030 Agenda and the new Somalia National Development Plan.

We commenced the first summit in Gaza in 2018 to explore ways to collaborate and accelerate the SDGs. It was thrilling to see this summit come to life – and to be so well received – in Somalia: whilst there are many efforted exerted at the global level, we believe it is also critical that similar discussion takes place at the local communities directly impacted. Our aim is to hold a yearly Committed to Good Summit in the communities we serve.

CTG is committed to sustainable business practices, which is evident in our operations where we have embedded the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in our policies guided by SDG 17, Partnership for the Goals. The Committed to Good summit is an extension of these practices to make the global goals a local reality, engaging the international community, local stakeholders, and the private sector to unite with the common goal to advance the sustainability discussion from within the community it directly affects.

Committed to Good Summit plinths

The 2019 Committed to Good Summit was hosted by Chelsea Village in Mogadishu on 19 November

State Minister for Education H.E. Abdulrahman Abdul opened the summit with a keynote speech, looking at the New Partnership for Somalia, the National Development Plan and the Government of Somalia’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In his remarks, he spoke about galvanising the entrepreneur spirit to address SDG 1: Elimination of Poverty, and work together to support vulnerable groups, including young people, women, persons with disabilities and IDPs. He also considered the strong value of SDG 17, Partnership for the Goals.

Committed to Good Summit Minister for Education jpg

State Minister for Education H.E. Abdulrahman Abdul

A Diverse Representative from the Sectors

The diverse group of presenters did an outstanding job of sharing their creative and innovative expertise. Amongst other esteemed ministers, we were honoured to have H.E. Deqa Yasin, Minister for Women and Human Rights Development, H.E. H.E. Abdulrahman Abdulle, State Minister of Education, as well as Minister of Commerce and Industry, H.E. Abdullahi Ali Hassan. We also had a number of Ambassadors representing member states, including officials from the EU, British Government, World Bank, and the German Embassy, and the United Nations Heads of Agencies.

Committed to Good Summit Claus Sorensen

Claus Sorensen leads the panel on the role of the private sector in advancing the SDGs

Norwegian Refugee Council & CTG Board Advisor Claus Sorensen moderated a fascinating panel focusing on the Somali governments’ new priorities and roadmap for development, and how the private sector can make meaningful contributions through sustainable business practices. Panelists included British Ambassador to Somalia, H.E. Ben Fender, Ambassador for the Delegation of the European Union to Somalia, H.E. Nicolas Berlanga, Somalia Private Sector Alliance Director, Suleiman Abdullahi, the World Bank Country Representative for Somalia, Hugh Riddle, Head of German Development Cooperation Somalia, German Embassy, Marius Rauh and Hormuud Telecom’s Abdullahi Nur Osman.

The session highlighted a key discourse around Somalia – panelists pointed out that Somalia is a good case study to show the potential of the local private sector in advancing sustainable development and economic prosperity. The private sector is a key pillar in achieving the SDGs because it holds the most capital. However, we need the right combination of private sector investment and policy; i.e. we need the private sector and the government to work together to achieve these goals.

A Partnership for the Goals

Achieving the SDGs is much more than simply an effort on the part of the government, international organisations and foreign donors. It’s about stimulating people in Somalia, most importantly, the private sector – creating an environment for the private sector to flourish.

In her keynote speech titled Raising the Gender Equality Barriers in Somalia, H.E. Deqa Yasin, Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, explored opportunities and challenges facing the public and private sectors in supporting the advancement of Somali women in the workplace. Her excellency urged for women’s economic participation to be interconnected with further gender equality challenges, challenges such as gender-based violence, which is rife in Somalia. She also noted that if we want to be successful, we should not work in silos – we need to bring all stakeholders on board.

Committed to Good Summit H.E. Deqa Yasin

Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, H.E. Deqa Yasin

I’m very passionate about women empowerment especially in the Somalia setting; CTG shares this passion. We had some impressive high-ranking women at the event who proved that Somali women can be successful leaders. These include Founder & Director of Human Development Center in Somalia, Habiba Ali; African Solution’s Development Manager, Amran Gedow Dahir; Humanitarian Donor Group Coordinator, Halima Adan; and Somali Women’s Leadership Initiative Executive Director, Asha Siyad. In the all-woman panel, the discussion centred around creating an inclusive, rewarding and safe workplace. Humanitarian Donor Group’s Halima Adan spoke about the need to embed female-friendly policies in work culture in order for women to be successful.

Committed to Good Summit Women's Panel

CTG CEO, Alice Laugher; African Solution’s Development Manager, Amran Gedow Dahir; Founder & Director of Human Development Center in Somalia, Director, Habiba Ali; Somali Women’s Leadership Initiative Executive Director, Asha Siyad; Humanitarian Donor Group Coordinator, Halima Adan; and SIDRA Institute, Deputy Director, Hussein Yusuf.

One of the biggest barriers to entry for women when applying for a job is that they do not meet the necessary requirements, and so training is vital. CTG combats this through the FemaleFirst Career Development Workshops, the aim of which is to upskill and empower female graduates through skills training. Using the Committed to Good Curricula, the “How to Maximise Your Job Application” training partners with local universities and institutions in CTG’s operational zones to provide training, raise awareness, and increase budgets to allow for gender-sensitive working environments. The Committed to Good Curricula was launched at the 2019 Committed to Good Summit, with a public call for partners and sponsors for training programmes. The session concluded with an award ceremony for five of the nine women who attended the Career Development Workshop in May 2019.

Committed to Good Summit Career Development Workshop

Graduates of the 2019 FemaleFirst: Career Development Workshop receive their certificates from Iman Shawwa, CTG Somalia Country Director, and CTG CEO, Alice Laugher

The Role of the Private Sector in Education

Recognising that the private sector has a unique capacity to foster innovative solutions to advance education and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Sadiyo Siad, Founder of Hano Group and Chancellor at Hano Academy spoke about the challenges to searching and retaining women in the workplace.

Education is very important and education for women in double important because they are the foundation of society. Without females at the forefront of society, we can’t move forward,” Dr. Sadiyo Siad.

Best Practices for Women’s Empowerment

Committed to Good Summit WEPs signatories

Celebrating the companies who have taken the first step to adopting the Women’s Empowerment Principles: City University; AMS; Hano Group; the Chelsea Group; Enigma Alliance; Mogadishu Employment Agency; Irise Hub; I Star; Human Development Centre; Simad University; Bilan Codes; African Solutions; Shabeel Group; Somali Women’s Leadership Initiative

I’m proud to say we were able to showcase Somali Private Sector Companies that have already achieved the 30% women employment goal. Furthermore, 16 Companies took the first step to signing up to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) at the summit including Chelsea Village, the Chelsea Group and Hart Nationwide.

Minister of Commerce and Industry, H.E. Abdullahi Ali Hassan closed the summit by reaffirming the need for strong coordination among public institutions, non-state actors and the development partners in order to incorporate socioeconomic development, new areas of environmental sustainability, and build peaceful societies and capable institutions.

Committed to Good Summit Minister of Commerce

Minister of Commerce and Industry, H.E. Abdullahi Ali Hassan in his closing remarks

I’m a firm believer that sustainable development is only possible with foreign investment and businesses are huge contributors to solving economic prosperity. It’s necessary to have this sort of dialogue, but not just the discussion, we now need to implement what’s been said.

The Summit was a huge success in helping us to understand the realities and challenges we are facing in Somalia, and we garnered rich and engaging input from the audience and panels. CTG continues to support humanitarian/development operations and we’re committed to working towards a stable, secure and prosperous Somalia.

Thank you for the Support

Being part of the wider Chelsea Group, we received a large amount of support from our sister companies. Thank you to Chelsea Village, our official catering partner for the summit who also hosted CTG and its guests during the event. The team lead by General Manager Costa Yiannakis stepped in to support with event setup and takedown, as well as all food and drinks during the event. CEO Stuart Page moderate a session on advancing education in Somalia and shared his valuable insights having worked in Somalia and other high-risk areas for many years. Hart Nationwide provided all security as well as vetting before and during the summit – this is a key component of hosting an event of this magnitude in an area such as Mogadishu.

After witnessing the high-level engagement from all who attended, I finished off the day on a very optimistic note for what’s to come and the future of Somalia. I look forward to hosting more summits of this kind and continuing to invest in Somalia’s future.

Iman Shawwa, Country Director, CTG Somalia

Highlights from the 2019 Committed to Good Summit in Somalia

Dyane Epstein & Penny Wilcocks at Committed to Good Summit

Joceyn Mason and Water Panel at Committed to Good Summit