WorldRemit founder Ismail Ahmed has launched a $500-million (Sh54.2 billion) fund to support education, healthcare and infrastructure development in his native Somaliland. The fund will launch under his Sahamiye Foundation.
In a statement, Ahmed said: “Over the next ten years, my ambition is to be able to commit $500 million of my own wealth and investments to Somaliland-focused development programs.”
The fund will initially focus on doubling the country’s literacy rate from 45 to 90 percent by 2023, The Star reported.
The initiative is similar to the Abdul Samad Rabiu Africa Initiative recently launched by Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu, which also focuses on education, healthcare, and infrastructure development in Nigeria and throughout the African continent.
Through the initiative, the Sahamiye Foundation will help Somaliland move past “traditional models of donor funding and towards a more entrepreneurial, scale-up approach,” Fintech Future cited the company as stating.
Ahmed added that diaspora remittances have grown significantly in Somaliland since 2010 when the foundation first launched, by 15 percent alone in 2020 to $1.3 billion.
Diaspora remittances are a core revenue source for Somaliland. Many people who live in the dysfunctional state rely on money sent from overseas to support their families.
“Interest from international inward investors in Somaliland is increasing, and we believe that there is now a real opportunity to help foster the potential for significant economic growth, in a way that benefits communities across the country,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed is an economist and founder of World Remit, a cross-border digital payments service that provides international money transfer and remittance services in more than 130 countries and over 70 currencies.
As of 2018, World Remit was valued at $670 million, CNBC reported.
Somaliland is a self-proclaimed independent nation within Somalia, which no country or international organization has recognized. This makes nearly impossible access to international funds and leaves the country largely reliant on external benefactors.