Ismail Ahmed, founder of WorldRemit, has committed Ksh. 53.6 billion ($500 million) of his wealth and investments to Somaliland-focused development programs over the next 10 years.

Ismail’s foundation is based in London and Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital. It is set to initially focus on education, healthcare and infrastructure projects across Somaliland.

The Sahamiye Foundation, in Somaliland, seeks to help over 1 million adults and young people acquire literacy skills in the Somali language and double Somaliland’s literacy rate from 45% to 90% by 2023. The Foundation aims to support over 100,000 people to develop technical and vocational skills for employment and entrepreneurship, invest in start-up accelerators, and increase levels of health and financial literacy across the country’s population.

Ismail Ahmed and Sahamiye Foundation have donated $1 million worth of PPE and COVID-19 laboratory testing equipment to strengthen the country’s capacity and support healthcare workers in Somaliland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to date.

Somaliland is home to around 4.5 million people. The country has adopted an innovative approach to building its own institutions that are optimized for the specific challenges that the country faces. However, in choosing to move away from traditional solutions offered by the aid sector, Somaliland has received very little development assistance. Innovative development finance solutions are required to overcome the barriers that Somaliland faces, going beyond the traditional models of donor funding and towards a more entrepreneurial, scale-up approach that focuses on building capacity, capabilities and skills that will generate solutions to the country’s challenges from within.

Sahamiye Foundation intends to adopt a start-up philosophy and mindset to invest in programs that will help to overcome barriers to Somaliland’s growth and development and to build ‘homegrown’ products and platforms.