Finnish companies leading the way in building collaboration in Somalia


A large number of Finnish and Somali companies and members of the Somali government and other key partners met in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 22-23 January to discuss the role of the companies and opportunities to participate in enhancing sustainable development and creating prosperity through business.

The two-day event attracted a total of 90 participants from Finland and Somalia. The event was attended by a Finnish delegation of 31 people from 12 companies together with representatives of Finnpartnership, Finnfund, Business Finland, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the Finnish Embassy in Nairobi and the Finnish-Somali Business Council. The Finnish delegation was one of the first large company delegations from Europe, and the first one from the Nordic countries to visit Mogadishu. The Somali attendees included the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, Chambers of Commerce and around thirty local companies. The World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and UNIDO were also represented at the event. The shared goal was to find opportunities for business cooperation and to identify problems and challenges that may be encountered during such business cooperation, such as issues relating to financing and lack of regulations, and to find possible solutions. The World Bank and other major financiers are important partners for the Somali government in building a sound corporate culture and a transparent business environment.


Mohamed A. Hayir Maareeye, Minister of Commerce and Industry, opened the two-day Summit.


Finnpartnership’s goal is to promote sustainable development by creating long-term business collaboration, which would have positive effects on the development processes. Finnpartnership’s support cannot be used for export efforts, but projects must have a long-term collaboration goal, such as the establishment of a joint venture in a developing country. Although Finnpartnership offers its highest support percentage to projects in fragile states, these have not yet attracted much interest from Finnish companies. The situation changed with Finnpartnership’s Somalia Pilot Project.


The event, which took place in mid-January, was the conclusion of the Somalia Pilot Project executed in 2018. The project’s goal was to create a model that would enable Finnish companies to become involved in cooperation with companies in fragile states. The Pilot achieved its goals. A total of 16 long-term collaboration projects were initiated, while the goal was just eight. The companies’ proactive approach attracted a lot of attention among Somali decision-makers, and Mohamed A. Hayir Maareeye, Somalia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, visited Finland halfway through the project and invited the business delegation to Somalia later in the autumn or early winter. The delegation finally travelled to Somalia in mid-January, with a much greater number of attendees than expected. When the major financiers heard that the Finnish companies, represented by 31 delegates, would travel to Mogadishu, they also decided to send more representatives from their own organisations to take part in the event.


APS and Banadir Gate bring Finnish Tele&Data solutions to Somalia – on the occasion of the Somali-Finnish Economic and Business Cooperation Summit, APS’ Alessandro Psenda and Banadir Gate’s Ali Gabow signed a partnership that’s unique in its kind. In the background, Somalia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mohamed A. Hayir Maareeye, and Finnpartnership’s Programme Director, Birgit Nevala.


The B2B room was busy. FCA Investments’ Junnu Kärkkäinen, centre, is looking into investment opportunities in Somalia with the African Development Bank’s Mkola Saleh Tambwe, left, and FCA Investments’ Emmanuel Obwori.


With the Somalia Pilot Project, Finnpartnership offered a more comprehensive Matchmaking service to the Finnish companies, the original number of which was 20, that joined the Pilot at the beginning of 2018, with the aim of finding suitable partners in Somalia and furthering discussions. Potential partner candidates in Somalia were invited to Finland in June 2018 to meet their Finnish partners and to get acquainted with the companies and their technologies and production. A Summit was discussed with the view of it being possible that collaboration between the companies might get off the ground. Finnpartnership also continued to provide support services to the participating companies. In the end, the number of collaboration initiatives doubled from the initial target, and opportunities for business collaboration between Finland and Somalia were created. The success of the Pilot was significantly enhanced by collaboration with Somalis living in Finland.


Crafts entrepreneur Sahra Alasow from Suuban Arts would like to find a design partner in Finland that could help bring the look that international shoppers like into her product design and thus help the company grow and find new markets.


African Solutions manufactures roofing material from recycled plastic. Abdi Hirsi Ali, Managing Director, hopes to find expert partners from Finland for the roofing business: there is so much building to be done!


After the Pilot Project, Finnpartnership continues to offer its Matchmaking service and Business Partnership Support for projects that bring together Finnish and Somali companies. Finnpartnership also hopes that Somali companies will become more attractive partners for Finnish companies. Companies owned by Somali entrepreneurs in Finland are also important as they operate, employ people and promote development both in Finland and Somalia. It was also the hope of the Somali Government that Finland could be an active partner in the development of sustainable and transparent business, and the government is currently formulating its goals for the next term.


Images: Finnpartnership